The Second Chance Club: Hardship and Hope After Prison by Jason Hardy - Book Review

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ISBN: 9781982128593
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Published: Simon & Schuster - February 18th, 2020

Eloquent exploration of the difficulties parolees face when they return to the streets. Some adapt, some revert to self-harm, and some pose extreme dangers to their communities. Hardy compassionately details the partnership that law enforcement, families, hospitals, shelters, and outreach agencies provide to give those who have done their time a second chance. ~ Reviewed by Mike Hare

You Never Forget Your First: A Biography of George Washington by Alexis Coe - Book Review

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ISBN: 9780735224100
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Published: Viking - February 4th, 2020

Our first, George Washington, emerges in this insightful and brash biography not as a marble-cast saint, but a well-intentioned, flawed leader. Washington's spotty military career, combined with his life-long reluctance to free his slaves, inveterate grumbling about money, thinly masked lack of patience with subordinates, and a fondness for pomp, make him more human, and sympathetic, than first thought. ~ Reviewed by Mike Hare

Sontag: Her Life and Work by Benjamin Moser - Book Review

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ISBN: 9780062896391
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Published: Ecco - September 17th, 2019

No one, not even herself or her closest friends, truly understood why or how Susan Sontag became famous. In her eyes, she and all people preferred living their metaphors’ imagery over the life necessitated within their own physical body, so perhaps because she was beautiful, the only lineage she inherited from her unloving mother, and maybe because she was friends with Andy Warhol, whose genius helped manufacture an entire era’s fame, Sontag herself lived into her own genius, and she just became one, and thus lived as one, her lived metaphor of choice. As her biographer, Benjamin Moser, shows in greatly scenic detail, Sontag was raised in the Nazi era of heightened Jewish persecution, and in growing up from her mother’s utter cold and her father’s absence, she lived to transcend such oppression, dabbling in a succession of diminishing human relationships, including multiple failed marriages; an abundance of lovers, both male and female; and sincere forays into S&M guises, all of which described her character in the Freudian terms which she studied and wrote about in her essays, and which shaped her fame with greater clarity than even her physical beauty could. Sontag grew into the impression her lifetime’s critics defined, though, that her fictions were only mediocre, while her essays’ nonfictions were brilliant, her seminal studies on “camp,” and in Against Interpretation, On Photography, and perhaps especially in Illness as Metaphor, furthering her generation’s break from establishment lifestyles, for how she provided the imagery for that break, works which remain in print now fifteen years following her death, while her fictions fade, absent their stories’ universal insights. ~ Reviewed by Ray Marsocci

Dutch Girl: Audrey Hepburn and World War II by Robert Matzen - Book Review

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By Robert Matzen, Luca Dotti (Foreword by)
ISBN: 9781732273535
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: GoodKnight Books - April 15th, 2019

My primary question before opening this book was how substantive it was actually going to be. I'm embarrassed to admit this now because Dutch Girl is nothing if not rich with history. To learn in depth of the Dutch people's colossal suffering during the war and how significant a battle ground The Netherlands became, most specifically as regards the areas of Velp and Arnhem where Audrey and her mother and grandparents resided, is a darkly meaningful experience. The famed book and movie "A Bridge Too Far" is based on the Allied/German battle for the bridge at Arnhem.
Audrey and her family were there in the thick of it, hunkered down in their basement, all but starving to death. Audrey's various efforts of assistance to her fellow citizens and the resistance during the war and the long term effect of Audrey's teen-year survival experience on her entire life including her life-long devotion to children's humanitarian causes and her subsequent death at an early age- there is so much here for Audrey fans and history buffs alike.
Like all great histories or biographies, Matzen's work, despite its potentially narrow focus, succeeds masterfully in shining a broad light on the human experience itself. Highly recommended. ~ Reviewed by Jon Fine

Becoming Duchess Goldblatt by Anonymous - Book Review

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ISBN: 9780358216773
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt - July 7th, 2020

With sparkling wit and generosity to spare, the author has created a standout memoir. The fictional Duchess Goldblatt has captured countless hearts in the Twitter-verse but one need not subscribe (I don't) to connect with her. Pain and beauty go hand in hand, like the flesh and blood author and her completely made-up counterpart. The Duchess is hard to describe. She certainly loves humanity. I could say she wears glass slippers, holds her head up high, has that sparkle at her feet, twinkle in her eye. But that might be Lyle Lovett talking. He's a real-life character in this wonderful book about a woman putting her life back together. ~ Reviewed by Stan Hynds

American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House by Jon Meacham - Book Review

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ISBN: 9780812973464
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Published: Random House Trade Paperbacks - April 30th, 2009

Widowed and childless in the White House, the dynamic Jackson, our first non-aristocratic president, surrounded himself with relatives and regarded America as his extended family. His love for the country was unbounded, while his rule, like any parent's, included enlightened breakthroughs and grievous miscalculations. ~ Reviewed by Mike Hare


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