Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder by Caroline Fraser (Literary Biography, 2017). This thick, detailed, well-written and insightful biography of one of American’s most beloved authors is already a Number One Best Seller, so my saying it’s deserving of a wide readership may be considered gilding the proverbial lilly. But what the heck? […]Read more "REVIEWED: Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder"
Dare Not Linger by Nelson Mandela, Mandla Langa and Graca Machel (Memoir/Biography/Recent History, 2017). While thoroughly readable and interesting, this book is a somewhat odd blend of personal memoir and political biography. It was originally conceived as the former, a direct sequel to the former South African President’s best-selling account of his life and his famous […]Read more "REVIEWED: Dare Not Linger"
Empress of the East by Leslie Peirce (Historical Biography, 2017). Leslie Peirce is a recognized authority on the Ottoman Empire and its unique royal harem practices. She takes on her most challenging topic yet in this striking account of the one woman who rose from slavery to be the legal wife of a great Sultan and […]Read more "REVIEWED: Empress of the East"
Grant by Ron Chernow (Historical Biography, 2017). Chernow, an award-winning biographer, tackles another key figure in American history in this, his latest book. He produces a richly detailed and forthright account of the man known to us as US Grant. With obvious sympathy and appreciation of his subject’s often underrated abilities, Chernow nonetheless doesn’t shy away […]Read more "REVIEWED: Grant"
The Mysterious Private Thompson by Laura Leedy Gansler (Civil War History, 2017). This true story is a carefully researched and capably written book from the author of an earlier book acclaimed by the LA Times as a Best book of 2002. It’s the latest (and the most even-handed) effort to tell the life of Sarah Emma Edmonds, the […]Read more "REVIEWED: The Mysterious Private Thompson"
Manderley Forever: A Biography of Daphne Du Maurier by Tatiana De Rosnay (Biography, 2017). The title here is, of course, a reference to the fictional mansion in Du Maurier’s best known novel, Rebecca. As the author makes clear, real life homes fascinated and repeatedly inspired Du Maurier. In particular, ones she lived in (as well as […]Read more "REVIEWED: Manderley Forever"
Be Free Or Die by Cate Lineberry (Nonfiction/Civil War History, 2017). About a year into America’s Civil War, a enslaved man named Robert Smalls made an epic break for freedom from that hotbed of succession, Charleston, South Carolina. A skilled boatman and born leader, he was by this time the de facto pilot of a steamer […]Read more "REVIEWED: Be Free Or Die"