Archive for the ‘History’ Category

Best Seller Crystal Ball:
IN THE KINGDOM OF ICE

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014

9780385535373_8e8d4Expect to see In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette, by Outside magazine’s Hampton Sides, (RH.Doubleday; RH Audio; RH Large Print) on this week’s best seller lists.

Based on newly-released documents, it tells the story of an ill-fated polar expedition, one that is less well-known than those of the Shackleton or Scott expeditions. Like those stories, says USA Today, “the struggles of DeLong and his crew to survive and work their way out of their dire predicament somehow make an even more compelling story than a hypothetical one of ultimate conquest.”

The book has received a string of enthusiastic reviews, including in The Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post. The author was interviewed on NPR’s Aug. 2nd Weekend Edition Saturday, causing it to climb Amazon’s sales rankings.

 A book trailer, gives an idea of the story, but for a taste of the writing, listen to a sample of the audio (hint: be sure to listen through to the end).

TESTAMENT OF YOUTH, Trailer

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

The trailer for a new adaptation of Vera Brittain’s classic WWI memoir, Testament Of Youth (1933) was recently released.

Alicia Vikander stars as Brittain in the film which is scheduled to open in January in the U.K. (the U.S. date has not yet been set).

Book-to-movie fans will be seeing a lot of Vikander, a Swedish actress, in the future. She has a supporting role in the upcoming Seventh Son (opening Feb. 6, based on Joseph, Delaney’s Revenge of the Witch), stars in Tulip Fever (based on the book by Deborah Moggach, currently filming), and has signed to star in The Light Between Oceans (based on the 2012 best seller by M.L. Stedman), as well as The Danish Girl, (based on the 2002 book by David Ebershoff),

Co-starring is Kit Harington (the heart-throb from Game of Thrones, he will also appear with Vikander in Seventh Son) as Brittain’s fiancé, who dies in the war).

 

Tonight’s Comedy Central Bumps

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

9781451668100_c7622   9780544274150_db311

On The Daily Show tonight, Jon Stewart will feature Helen Thorpe, the author of Soldier Girls: The Battles of Three Women at Home and at War,  (S&S/Scribner; Dreamscape audio), which follows three women soldiers’s deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan and their struggles on returning home. Prepub reviews are strong, with stars from both PW and Kirkus.

The Colbert Report hosts John Dean, a key player in the Watergate scandal that brought down President Richard Nixon. In his new book, The Nixon Defense: What He Knew and When He Knew It, (Penguin/Viking), he reflects on what he learned by listening to Nixon’s recently-released secret tapes of White House conversations. The book has been widely covered, including in a review in the Washington Post by a person very familiar with the story, Bob Woodward. Along with Carl Bernstein, he broke the story about the Watergate coverup.

Libraries have ordered modest quantities of each.

UNBROKEN Trailer Released

Friday, July 11th, 2014

The death last week of Louis Zamperini brought renewed attention to Laura Hillenbrand’s 2010 book about the Olympian and WWII hero, Unbroken, causing it to rise on best seller lists (from #88 on the USA Today list to #7).

A second boost is likely to come from the just-released trailer for the movie adaptation.

The L.A. Times says it “bears many of the hallmarks of an awards-season contender, including an inspirational true story, a potential breakout performance and a pair of Oscar-winning screenwriters…The trailer provides a glimpse of what looks to be a fierce performance from newcomer Jack O’Connell as Zamperini .”

Directed by Angelina Jolie, the movie opens on Dec. 25


A paperback edition, with new photos and an interview with the author, will be published later this month.

Unbroken : A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption
Laura Hillenbrand
Random House: July 29, 2014
9780812974492, 0812974492
Trade paperback

BELLE, Book And Movie

Thursday, May 1st, 2014

On Entertainment Weekly‘s “Must List” in the new issue, the movie Belle, opening in NY and LAs tomorrow, and expanding into more theaters through May and June, is described as, “More emotional and affecting than your typical costume drama, this story about the orphan child of an English aristocrat and a slave unfolds beautifully.” The review goes on to make some intriguing comparisons, “like a Jane Austen novel spiked with an extra shot of social conscience … like Downton Abbey but with corsets, culottes and tricorn hats, Belle subtly skewers the absurd rules and hypocrisies of class.” (official web site, with trailer, here).

Based on a true story, it is directed by black female British director Amma Asante, who, keenly aware of how difficult it is to break into the film business, has insisted on diversity both in front of and behind the camera.

The lead actress is widely regarded as on the verge of a major career, with Entertainment Tonight, declaring, “Soon Everyone Will Be Talking About Gugu Mbatha-Raw.”

The tie-in is a an original paperback:

BelleBelle: The Slave Daughter and the Lord Chief Justice
Paula Byrne
Harper Perennial;  April 29, 2014
9780062310774, 0062310771
Paperback / softback
$14.99 USD / $18.50 CAD

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