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Newly released in paperback, this is a most engaging history of perhaps America's premier songwriting duo of the 20th century, Rodgers and Hammerstein. Chock full of the details of both musical geniuses' creations from their very beginnings as well as the chronology of both of their personal stories, Purdum's work is both engaging and musically astute. These are the talented icons behind the classic shows my mother lived and breathed as I was growing up and I can still see the record jackets lying on the record player; Oklahoma!, South Pacific and of course, my favorite, The Sound of Music, to name but a few. The perfect read to heighten your appreciation of this duo's brilliance before checking out this summer's local production of Oklahoma! ~ Reviewed by Jon Fine
Woodfox' insider story of a life lived deep in the bowels of the unjust, inhumane, violent, sadistic and vile world of the American “justice” system may not be for the faint of heart. But it is, by turns, appalling and nauseating, horrific yet inspiring. Woodfox' ability to recall the minutia of his daily life in countless prison facilities throughout his life is uncanny- there are so many guard attacks/beatings, gassings, strip searches and constant violent humiliations that the reader's head may spin. But throughout it all- after an indoctrination by Black Panther prisoners to a noble mission of both bettering himself and the lives of his fellow African Americans gave him a lifetime of strength, determination, grit and grace to endure the endless prison purgatory that has taken down the souls of countless men- Woodfox manages to stand tall, standing for himself and for others no matter the cost. A most impressive tale. A most impressive man. ~ Reviewed by Jon Fine
Partial Spoiler Alert! This fun-sized novel is not quite as fully supernatural as the cover and title might lead one to anticipate or hope. Yet... that's not entirely true either. There are ghosts and spirits and hauntings generously sprinkled throughout, just not fully of a kin to Amityville Horror or Stranger Things. Nevertheless, Davidson's work is ultimately a full-on charmer, with a bevy of memorable characters and a light and warm-hearted (despite some dark material) reflection on life and love, neuroscience and memory that pays the reader back in full for any slight traces of disappointment if the ghost count should happen to fall short. Set amidst the narrator's boyhood in an aging Niagara Falls, this is a perfect summer read. ~ Reviewed by Jon Fine
Stay Up With Hugo Best is an entertaining romp through the sunset of the career of just-retired late night talk show host Huge Best as told by his surprise guest for the weekend at his Greenwich, CT estate. “Surprise” because writer's assistant June has heretofore never been sure that her boss and possible comic idol even knew she existed before his impromptu invitation. The hollow but ever-coveted role of celebrity in America, the eternal insecurity of entertainers at any level of success, the destructive force of fame on family and the inescapable stain of indiscretion in the public eye are all on the menu for the weekend. This is an enjoyable, tragic-comic ride to the other side of the tracks and a chance to be a fly on the wall at the rudderless finale of a comedy semi-legend's career in the immediate aftermath of its... mercy killing. ~ Reviewed by Jon Fine
When former Acting FBI director Andrew McCabe was fired by then Attorney General Jeff Session, Donald Trump tweeted that McCabe "knew all about the corruption and lies going on at the highest levels of the FBI". Anyone can of course lie in print, but the reader of McCabe's memoir/FBI primer will come away with an unmistakable impression that Andrew McCabe is "on the level", a sober and dedicated public servant committed to serving his agency and his country. A detailed look at an important topic, covering not just his recent experiences with Trump but his entire career and the modern trajectory and challenges of the FBI in combating the unique threats of our day. ~ Reviewed by Jon Fine