Archive for the ‘History’ Category

In Production: TESTAMENT OF YOUTH

Sunday, April 6th, 2014

A feature movie based on the classic WWI memoir, Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain, began filming last week at the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway in West Yorkshire, England, according to local news stories.

Just last year, 80 years after publication, the book was called “one of the most powerful and widely read war memoirs of all time,” by The Guardian. When it was published in 1933, it was “an instant hit,” and Virginia Woolf wrote in her diaries that she had to stay up all night to finish it. It’s pacifist message fell out of favor during WWII, but in 1978 the feminist Virago Press brought it back into print to great success. Today, notes The Guardian, “the book seems to strike a chord with contemporary readers who have themselves lived through an era of renewed conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

The title role is being played by Swedish actress Alicia Vikander (whose breakout was in the supporting role of Kitty in Anna Karenina; she also starred in the Oscar-nomated Danish movie, A Royal Affair), replacing Saoirse Ronan, who was originally cast for the role.

The book is currently available in the U.S. in trade paperback from Penguin Books:

Testament of YouthTestament of Youth
Vera Brittain
Penguin Classics, 2005
9780143039235, 0143039237
Trade paperback $20.00 USD

On FRESH AIR

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014

Dancing Fish And Ammonites   Savage Harvest

Penelope Lively was interviewed yesterday on NPR’s Fresh Air (listen here) about her new book, Dancing Fish And Ammonites, (Penguin/Viking), which the 81-year-old author says is “not quite a memoir,” but rather “the view from old age.”

Today, the show features journalist Carl Hoffman on his new book Savage Harvest (HarperCollins/Morrow), with the long subtitle/annotation,  A Tale of Cannibals, Colonialism and Michael Rockefeller’s Tragic Quest for Primitive Art. The author was also interviewed this past weekend on another NPR show, Weekend Edition Saturday. An excerpt of the book appears in the March Smithsonian Magazine.

ON NPR: FIVE CAME BACK

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

9781594204302Featured on Fresh Air yesterday was Mark Harris on his new a book about filmmakers in WWII, Five Came Back: A Story Of Hollywood And The Second World War, (Penguin Press; Recorded Books).

The author describes the shift in relationships between the film business and the U.S. government, “Hollywood and the federal government held a mutual suspicion of each other. But after Pearl Harbor, the War Department asked Hollywood directors to make short documentaries that could be presented in theaters before the featured films … to show Americans what was at stake, give them a glimpse of what our soldiers were going through and stir up patriotic feelings.”
Book of Hours

Coming today on Fresh Air, Kevin Young shares poems from his new collection, Book of Hours, (Knopf) about the death of his father and the birth of his son.

DARK INVASION On FRESH AIR

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

Dark InvasionTerrorism is not a new phenomenon. There were German terrorist cells in Amearica during WW I, blowing up American factories and ships and carrying out germ warfare on thousands of American horses being shipped to Europe.

Howard Blum investigates that story in Dark Invasion: 1915: Germany’s Secret War and the Hunt for the First Terrorist Cell in America (Harper, Feb. 11). He was interviewed on Fresh Air yesterday, sending the book to #57 on Amazon’s sales rankings.

UNBROKEN: First Preview

Monday, February 17th, 2014

UnbrokenAs part of Sunday’s Olympics coverage, NBC debuted a preview of the Universal movie Unbroken (the studio is part of NBC), directed by Angelina Jolie. It is based on Laura Hillenbrand’s long-running best seller, Unbroken (Random House, 2010), still on the NYT hardcover nonfiction list at #11 after 156 weeks.

Looks like the movie will bring new readers to the book; the preview sent the book up to #2 (from #62) on Amazon’s sales rankings.

It will be several months before the movie theatrical opening (set for Christmas Day), but  the Olympics serves as a good tie-in, since the hero of the film, Louis Zamperini (played in the film  by Jack O’Connell) competed in the 1936 Olympics. The real-life Zamperini, now 96, is also featured in the preview, narrated by  Tom Brokaw.

Official Web Site: UnbrokenFilm.com

A True DOWNTON ABBEY Readalike

Thursday, January 30th, 2014

“For fans of  Downton Abbey” has become one of the most used phrases in promotional copy. As the NYT Book Review asks,

Is it possible nowadays for otherwise intelligent Americans to reflect on England without thinking first of Downton Abbey? To put it another way: Can beleaguered American publishers expect to sell any English author without promising — however absurdly — a tie-in with Julian Fellowes’s opulent confection?

Secret RoomsThat’s the opening line for the review of the original trade paperback, The Secret Rooms, (Penguin; Thorndike) which goes on to say, “in the case of Catherine Bailey’s stylish new book about one of England’s grandest dynasties, the link proves apt.”

The book, a December LibraryReads pick, was also also featured in the Daily Candy (although with the British cover), which, of course,  made the requisite reference, “If you add a dash of the macabre and a hefty serving of intrigue to Downton Abbey, you get Catherine Bailey’s latest, a true story about a creepy castle and a duke whose private space was sealed in 1940 and reopened only in 1999.”

We hear it will appear at #20 on the upcoming NYT Paperback Nonfiction best seller list.

IN THE HEART OF THE SEA, Film Crew Evacuated

Thursday, December 5th, 2013

9780141001821Ron Howard’s upcoming movie In the Heart of the Sea, based on Nathaniel Philbrick’s book, made news this week when the crew, in the midst of filming in the Canary Islands, was evacuated as flash floods hit the area, causing mudslides and killing five people. Production is currently on hold.

Philbrick won the National Book Award in Nonfiction in 2000 for In the Heart of the Sea, about the Essex, a Nantucket ship hunting whale in the South Pacific in 1819, was stalked and eventually sunk by a sperm whale setting the crew adrift for 90 days.

The movie, starring  Chris Hemsworth, Cillian Murphy and Ben Whishaw, is set to release on March 13, 2015.

The Day JFK Died; Documentary and Book

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

ibg.common.titledetail.imageloaderToday is the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination. Among the many TV shows covering the event is a 2-hour NBC documentary that looks at how individual Americans responded on that day, Where Were You: The Day JFK Died, hosted by Tom Brokaw.

A companion book is also being published, Where Were You?: America Remembers the JFK Assassination, edited by Gus Russo, and Harry Moses, with a foreword by Tom Brokaw, (Lyons Press, 9780762794560).

Brokaw spoke about the documentary on The Daily Show:
 

Goodwin’s BULLY PULPIT

Tuesday, November 5th, 2013

The Bully PulpitDoris Kearns Goodwin is one of the few historians who gets recognized on the street, as USA Today notes in yesterday’s profile.

A popular talk show guest, she is in the middle of a media blitz for her latest book, releasing today, The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism, Doris Kearns Goodwin, (S&S; S&S Audio). Her tour has an added zing, with the announcement last week that the book has been optioned by Steven Spielberg‘s DreamWorks Studio (which, of course, used Goodwin’s 2005 book, Team of Rivals as the basis for last year’s Academy Award winning biopic, Lincoln).

Goodwin appeared on NPR Morning Edition yesterday and CBS Sunday MorningOn Wednesday, she is scheduled to appear on The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson (also featuring Martin Short).

The Bully Pulpit was reviewed in The Wall Street Journal. Moving up  Amazon’s sales rankings, it is  currently at #19.

Video of the CBS Sunday Morning interview, below:

MONUMENTS MEN Moved to 2014

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013

Monuments MenJust as the tie-in is published to the big upcoming George Clooney movie,  The Monuments Men, it’s announced that the film release date has been pushed from Dec. 18 to an unspecified time in the first quarter of 2014.

The L.A. Times reports that director Clooney says he needs more time to get the special effects correct.

Will that hurt the sales of the tie-ins – The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History, Robert M. Edsel, (Hachette/Back Bay trade pbk; Mass Mkt: Macmillan Audio)?

Unlikely; we’ve seen several tie-ins become hits even when the films were put off, the most notable being Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, which landed on best seller lists only to see the movie put off for months, finally releasing a year later.

It seems famous faces on covers are all consumers need. In this case, there are several; Clooney, Matt Damon, John Goodman, Bill Murray and Jean Dujardin.

Official Web Site: MonumentsMen.com

Fresh Air on LAWRENCE IN ARABIA

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

Lawrence in ArabiaScott Anderson’s appearance on NPR’s Fresh Air yesterday to discuss his new book Lawrence in Arabia, (RH/Doubleday; Blackstone Audio) caused the book to soar to #16 on Amazon’s sales rankings (from #96).

Holds continue to grow in libraries on minimal ordering (we issued a Holds Alert on it last week).

Holds Alert: LAWRENCE IN ARABIA

Monday, August 12th, 2013

Lawrence in ArabiaHolds are growing in several libraries for Scott Anderson’s Lawrence in Arabia, (RH/Doubleday; Blackstone Audio), which receives a mixed review in this week’s NYT Sunday Book Review, with the dismissive comment that books keep being written about T.E. Lawrence because, “After all, somebody keeps buying the stuff.”

USA Today, on the other hand, is completely positive, giving it 4 of 4 stars, saying that, in over 500 pages,  Anderson “thrillingly” illuminates “the bureaucratic fumblings, the myriad spies, heroes and villains, the dense fugue of humanity at its best and worst operating in the Mideast war theater of 1914-17.”

MONUMENTS MEN, First Trailer

Friday, August 9th, 2013

When George Clooney calls, they come running. Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin, Bob Balaban, Hugh Bonneville, and Cate Blanchett all join him in his adaptation of the nonfiction title, The Monuments Men, by Robert Edsel (Hachette/Center Street) about the effort to rescue art from the hands of the Nazis. It debuts in theaters on Dec. 18.

In addition to The Monuments Men, Edsel published another book in May on the subject (Saving Italy: The Race to Rescue a Nation’s Treasures from the Nazis, Norton). Several other books and a documentary have also been released about the story (see our earlier post).

Monuments Men Official Site: MonumentsMen.com

Tie-ins:
The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History
Robert M. Edsel, Bret Witter
On Sale Date: October 22, 2013
Trade Pbk: 9780316240055, 0316240052

Mass Mkt: 9780316240079

Audio: 9781427235404 (Macmillan Audio)

Oscar Bait: PARKLAND

Monday, July 29th, 2013

A release date for the movie Parkland, based on Vincent Bugliosi’s book on the JFK assassination, Reclaiming History, (Norton, 2007), has been set for Sept. 20, a date regarded by Deadline as a bid for Oscar nominations (release was orginally planned for Nov. 2013, the fiftieth anniversary of the assassination). The movie  focuses on the chaos that ensued at Parkland Hospital in Dallas when Kennedy was brought there after the shooting. It is produced by Tom Hanks’ Playtone Partners. Stars include Zac Efron, Marcia Gay Harden, Billy Bob Thornton, Jacki Weaver and Paul Giamatti (as Abraham Zapruder, the man in the crowd who captured the assassination on his home movie camera).

The release date for the tie-in is now likely to be moved up.

Parkland (Movie Tie-In Edition)
Vincent Bugliosi
Trade paperback: $16.95
Norton, (2013-09-23)
ISBN / EAN: 0393347338 / 9780393347333

UNBROKEN, The Movie, Christmas Day Next Year

Wednesday, July 10th, 2013

UnbrokenDon’t withdraw those copies yet!

As Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken (Random House, 2010) continues to be a best seller (on the NYT Nonfiction list at #8 after 135 weeks), it was just announced that the film adaptation, to be directed by Angelina Jolie, will be released 12/25/14. Production is set to begin in late September (the New York Daily News reports Jolie is scouting locations in Hawaii).

In a statement, the director said about the 96 year-old man who is the focus of the book, “I’ve had the privilege of spending a great deal of time with Louie Zamperini, who is a hero of mine, and now—I am proud to say—a dear friend. I am deeply honored to be telling his extraordinary story, and I will do my absolute best to give him the film he deserves.”

A film about Zamperini was the works long before Hillenbrand began working on her book or Jolie thought about adapting it. Universal bought Zamperini’s “life rights” in the 1950′s, with plans to star Tony Curtis, which were never realized.