New Nonfiction Books: January 2018

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All-American Murder: The Rise and Fall of Aaron Hernandez, the Superstar Whose Life Ended on Murderer’s Row by  James Patterson & Alex Abramovich

 

all american murderThe world’s most popular thriller writer presents the definitive, never before told account of the Aaron Hernandez case. 

Everyone thought they knew Aaron Hernandez. He was an NFL star who made the game of football look easy. Until he became the prime suspect in a gruesome murder. But who was Aaron Hernandez, really?

Rich with in-depth, on-the-ground investigative reporting that gives readers a front row seat to Hernandez’s tumultuous downward spiral, All-American Murder will reveal the unvarnished truth behind the troubled star, with first-person accounts and untold stories–from his hometown of Bristol, CT to his college days in Gainesville, FL to the Patriots’ NFL locker room where he ascended to stardom, to the prison where Hernandez spent his final days. Packed with the shocking details of a true crime masterpiece and the pacing of a suspenseful thriller, All-American Murder answers the questions that everyone is asking about Aaron Hernandez.

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The Better Brain Solution: How to Start Now–At Any Age–To Reverse and Prevent Insulin Resistance of the Brain, Sharpen Cognitive Function, and Avoid Memory Loss by  Steven Masley

better brain solutionFrom the author of the best-selling 30-Day Heart Tune-Up and Smart Fat–the first book to show how the brain can become insulin resistant through diet and lifestyle, and to make clear how and why this has been directly linked to cognitive decline and memory loss. With a detailed program developed by the author to prevent and reverse this potentially devastating condition.

Alzheimer’s disease is the #1 most terrifying disease today. Despite billions of dollars of research, there are no significant cures for dementia or Alzheimer’s (the most common form of memory loss), which accounts for up to 70 percent of all dementia. Almost six million Americans have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s; with an annual cost of dementia care and research in the United States of $215 billion, more than is spent on cancer or heart disease.

In The Better Brain Solution, Dr. Steven Masley writes of the two urgent epidemics we are facing now–escalating rates of disabling memory loss and rapidly increasing rates of diabetes and pre-diabetes–and yet both conditions are largely preventable.
Most people today understand the effect that elevated blood sugar has on their cardiovascular health, but few understand that insulin resistance is significantly damaging to the brain.

In the The Better Brain Solution, Masley offers a program that, in the fight against diabetes, memory loss, and cognitive decline, can reverse insulin resistance, enhance cognitive performance, and stop cognitive decline before it is too late. Masley gives the reader the tools he has developed for his own private patients to prevent and reverse this metabolic syndrome and to achieve normal blood sugar levels (below 95 mg/dL). He explores the impact of insulin resistance on the brain and the heart/brain/diabetes connection, explaining how cognitive function and memory work and he discusses the risk factors for memory loss. The Better Brain Solution offers the reader a comprehensive plan for achieving optimal brain health, providing information on brain-boosting foods and supplements as well as providing a practical way to assess cognitive function. With 50 recipes for foods that improve brain and body and that are easy to prepare.

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Black Fortunes: The Story of the First Six African Americans Who Escaped Slavery and Became Millionaires by  Shomari Wills

black fortunesThe astonishing untold history of America’s first black millionaires—former slaves who endured incredible challenges to amass and maintain their wealth for a century, from the Jacksonian period to the Roaring Twenties—self-made entrepreneurs whose unknown success mirrored that of American business heroes such as Henry Ford, John D. Rockefeller, and Thomas Edison.

While Oprah Winfrey, Jay-Z, Beyoncé, Michael Jordan, and Will Smith are among the estimated 35,000 black millionaires in the nation today, these famous celebrities were not the first blacks to reach the storied one percent. Between the years of 1830 and 1927, as the last generation of blacks born into slavery was reaching maturity, a small group of smart, tenacious, and daring men and women broke new ground to attain the highest levels of financial success.

Black Fortunes is an intriguing look at these remarkable individuals, including Napoleon Bonaparte Drew—author Shomari Wills’ great-great-great-grandfather—the first black man in Powhatan County (contemporary Richmond) to own property in post-Civil War Virginia. His achievements were matched by five other unknown black entrepreneurs including:

Mary Ellen Pleasant, who used her Gold Rush wealth to further the cause of abolitionist John Brown;
Robert Reed Church, who became the largest landowner in Tennessee;
Hannah Elias, the mistress of a New York City millionaire, who used the land her lover gave her to build an empire in Harlem;
Orphan and self-taught chemist Annie Turnbo-Malone, who developed the first national brand of hair care products;
Madam C. J Walker, Turnbo-Malone’s employee who would earn the nickname America’s “first female black millionaire;”
Mississippi school teacher O. W. Gurley, who developed a piece of Tulsa, Oklahoma, into a “town” for wealthy black professionals and craftsmen” that would become known as “the Black Wall Street.”

A fresh, little-known chapter in the nation’s story—A blend of Hidden Figures, Titan, and The TycoonsBlack Fortunes illuminates the birth of the black business titan and the emergence of the black marketplace in America as never before.

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Experience on Demand: What Virtual Reality Is, How It Works, and What It Can Do by  Jeremy Bailenson

experience on demandVirtual reality is able to effectively blur the line between reality and illusion, pushing the limits of our imagination and granting us access to any experience imaginable. With well-crafted simulations, these experiences, which are so immersive that the brain believes they’re real, are already widely available with a VR headset and will only become more accessible and commonplace. But how does this new medium affect its users, and does it have a future beyond fantasy and escapism?

In Experience on Demand, Jeremy Bailenson draws on two decades spent researching the psychological effects of VR and other mass media to help readers understand this powerful new tool. He offers expert guidelines for interacting with VR and describes the profound ways this technology can be put to use—not to distance ourselves from reality, but to enrich our lives and influence us to treat others, the environment, and even ourselves better. In the world of VR, a football quarterback plays a game against a competing team hundreds of times before even stepping onto the field; members of the United Nations embody a young girl in a refugee camp going through her day-to-day life; and veterans once again walk through the streets where they had experienced trauma.

There are dangers and many unknowns in using VR, but it also can help us hone our performance, recover from trauma, improve our learning and communication abilities, and enhance our empathic and imaginative capacities. Like any new technology, its most incredible uses might be waiting just around the corner. Experience on Demand is the definitive look at the risks and potential of VR—a must-read for navigating both the virtual and the physical worlds ahead.

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Happiness is a Choice You Make: Lessons from a Year Among the Oldest Old by  John Leland

happiness is a choice you makeAn extraordinary look at what it means to grow old and a heartening guide to well-being, Happiness Is a Choice You Make weaves together the stories and wisdom of six New Yorkers who number among the “oldest old”— those eighty-five and up.

In 2015, when the award-winning journalist John Leland set out on behalf of The New York Times to meet members of America’s fastest-growing age group, he anticipated learning of challenges, of loneliness, and of the deterioration of body, mind, and quality of life. But the elders he met took him in an entirely different direction. Despite disparate backgrounds and circumstances, they each lived with a surprising lightness and contentment. The reality Leland encountered upended contemporary notions of aging, revealing the late stages of life as unexpectedly rich and the elderly as incomparably wise.

Happiness Is a Choice You Make is an enduring collection of lessons that emphasizes, above all, the extraordinary influence we wield over the quality of our lives. With humility, heart, and wit, Leland has crafted a sophisticated and necessary reflection on how to “live better”—informed by those who have mastered the art.

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Jackie, Janet & Lee: The Secret Lives of Janet Auchincloss and Her Daughters Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Lee Radziwill by  J. Randy Taraborrelli

jackie janet and lee“Taraborrelli’s gossipy narrative revels in luxurious decor, stunning outfits, and soap-operatic fights in this entertaining saga.” — Publishers Weekly

A dazzling audiobook biography of three of the most glamorous women of the 20th Century: Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis, her mother Janet Lee Auchincloss, and her sister, Princess Lee Radziwill.

“Do you know what the secret to happily-ever-after is?” Janet Bouvier Auchincloss would ask her daughters Jackie and Lee during their tea time. “Money and Power,” she would say. It was a lesson neither would ever forget. They followed in their mother’s footsteps after her marriages to the philandering socialite “Black Jack” Bouvier and the fabulously rich Standard Oil heir Hugh D. Auchincloss.

Jacqueline Bouvier would marry John F. Kennedy Jr. and the story of their marriage is legendary, as is the story of her second marriage to Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis. Less well known is the story of her love affair with a world renowned architect and a British peer. Her sister, Lee, had liaisons with both of Jackie’s husbands in addition to her own three marriages—to an illegitimate royal, a Polish prince and a Hollywood director.

If the Bouvier women personified beauty, style and fashion, it was their lust for money and status that drove them to seek out powerful men, no matter what the cost to themselves or to those they stepped on in their ruthless climb to the top. Based on hundreds of new interviews with friends and family of the Bouviers, among them their own half-brother, as well as letters and journals, J. Randy Taraborrelli paints an extraordinary psychological portrait of two famous sisters and their ferociously ambitious mother.

Jackie, Janet & Lee will drop listeners directly into the gilded, tangled web of secrets surrounding one of the most recognizable families in American history.

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James Patterson’s Murder is Forever, Volume 2 by  James Patterson

murder is forever volume 2Two true-crime thrillers as seen on Discovery’s “Murder is Forever” TV series.

HOME SWEET MURDER: Lawyer Leo Fisher and his wife Sue are a sixty-one-year-old couple enjoying a quiet Sunday dinner at home. Until a man in a suit rings their front door claiming to be an SEC agent. By the end of the evening, two people will be shot, stabbed, and tortured. And two others will fare worse . . .

MURDER ON THE RUN: The middle-aged housekeeper found dead with a knife in her throat was bad. But the little boy was worse. After a bloody double homicide that puts Omaha, Nebraska, on the map, Detective Derek Mois promises the boy’s parents he will catch the killer, no matter how long or far he runs . . .

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Jefferson’s Daughters: Three Sisters, White and Black, in a Young America by  Catherine Kerrison

jeffersons daughtersThomas Jefferson fathered three girls: two white and free, one black and a slave. This book about Martha, Maria, and Harriet tells the fascinating story of their very different lives at Monticello and beyond, as daughters of one of our most brilliant and complicated Founding Fathers.

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The Monk of Mokha by  Dave Eggers

monk of mokhaFrom the best-selling author of The Circle, the true story of a young Yemeni-American man, raised in San Francisco, who dreams of resurrecting the ancient art of Yemeni coffee but finds himself trapped in Sana’a by civil war.

Mokhtar Alkhanshali grew up in San Francisco, one of seven siblings brought up by Yemeni immigrants in a tiny apartment. At age twenty-four, unable to pay for college, he works as a doorman, until a chance encounter awakens his interest in coffee and its rich history in Yemen. Reinventing himself, he sets out to learn about coffee cultivation, roasting and importing. He travels to Yemen and visits farms in every corner of the country, collecting samples, eager to improve cultivation methods and help Yemeni farmers bring their coffee back to its former glory. And he is on the verge of success when civil war engulfs Yemen in 2015. The U.S. embassy closes, Saudi bombs begin to rain down on the country and Mokhtar is trapped in Yemen. This is a heart-pounding true story that weaves together the history of coffee, the struggles of everyday Yemenis living through civil war and the courageous journey of a young man–a Muslim and a U.S. citizen–following the most American of dreams.

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Murder, Interrupted by  James Patterson

murder interruptedTwo true-crime thrillers as seen on Discovery’s “Murder is Forever” TV series – premiering January 2018.

MURDER, INTERRUPTED. Rich, cheating financier Frank Howard wants his wife dead, and he’s willing to pay Billie Earl Johnson whatever it takes, to the tune of $750,000. When his bullet misses the mark, Billie Earl and Frank will turn on each other in a fight for their lives . . .

MOTHER OF ALL MURDERS.
 Dee Dee Blancharde is a local celebrity. Television reports praise her as a single mother who tirelessly cares for her wheelchair-bound, chronically ill daughter. But when the teenaged Gypsy Rose realizes she isn’t actually sick and Dee Dee has lied all these years, Gypsy Rose exacts her revenge . . .

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Norwich: One Tiny Vermont Town’s Secret to Happiness and Excellence by  Karen Crouse

norwichThe extraordinary story of the small Vermont town that has likely produced more Olympians per capita than any other place in the country—and whose citizens provide a model for achieving excellence while leading a well-rounded life.

Norwich, a charming Vermont town of roughly three thousand residents, has sent an athlete to almost every Winter Olympics for the past thirty years—and three times that athlete has returned with a medal.

How does Norwich do it? To answer this question, New York Times reporter Karen Crouse moved to Vermont, immersing herself in the lives of Norwich Olympians past and present. There, amidst the organic farms and clapboard colonial buildings, she discovered a culture that’s the opposite of the hypercompetitive schoolyard of today’s tiger moms and eagle dads. In Norwich, kids aren’t cut from teams. They don’t specialize in a single sport, and they even root for their rivals. What’s more, their hands-off parents encourage them to simply enjoy themselves. Making it to the Olympics is seen not as the pinnacle of an athlete’s career but as a fun stop on the way to achieving other, longer-lasting dreams. Norwich, Crouse realized, wasn’t just raising better athletes than the rest of America; it was raising happier, healthier kids.

Full of inspiring stories of Olympians who excelled on and off the sports field—and had a blast doing so—Norwich is the book for every parent who wants to raise kids to be levelheaded, fulfilled, and successful.

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Rebel: My Life Outside the Lines by  Nick Nolte

rebelThe legendary icon tells his story—a tale of art, passion, commitment, addiction, as intense and hypnotic as the man himself.

In a career spanning five decades, Nick Nolte has endured the rites of Hollywood celebrity. Rising from obscurity to leading roles and Oscar nominations, he has been both celebrated and vilified in the media; survived marriages, divorces, and a string of romances; was named the “Sexiest Man Alive” by People magazine; and suffered public humiliation over his drug and alcohol issues, including a drug-fueled trip down a “long road of nothingness” that ended in arrest.

Despite these ups and downs, Nolte has remained true to the craft he loves, portraying a diverse range of characters with his trademark physicality and indelible gravelly voice. Already 35 when his performance in the 1976 miniseries “Rich Man, Poor Man” launched him to stardom, Nolte never learned to play by Hollywood’s rules. A rebel who defies expectations, an obsessive method actor who will go to extremes for a role (he lived among the homeless to prepare for “Down and Out in Beverly Hills”), Nolte is motivated more by edgier, more personal projects than by box office success. Today he is clean yet still driven, juggling a number of upcoming works and raising his young daughter.

A man who refuses to hide his mistakes, Nolte now delivers his most revealing performance yet. His revealing memoir, filled with sixteen pages of color photos, offers a candid, unvarnished close-up look at the man, the career, the loves, and the life.

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Secrets of the Secret Service: The History and Uncertain Future of the U.S. Secret Service by  Gary J. Byrne

secrets of the secret serviceSecrets of the Secret Service is a unique, behind-the-scenes look at what makes the Secret Service tick and the increasingly reactive strategies and tactics that place presidential security at risk.

The United States Secret Service is tasked with one of the world’s most important missions: protecting the President of the United States. World stability rests upon their shoulders. When they sign up to lay down their lives for the leader of the free world, they pledge to ensure America’s continuity of government and continued leadership on the world stage.

But unbeknownst to most Americans, that legacy faces a great risk today.

The agency today is fraught with management problems thanks to years of increased politicization. The Secret Services’ strategy and tactics have become increasingly reactive, placing presidential security at risk.

New York Times bestselling author Gary Byrne, a former Secret Service officer, reveals the agency’s evolution, studying the major attacks it has thwarted and bringing to life the key players, forces and dramatic shifts that have made it what it is today – an elite but troubled protection force.

Secrets of the Secret Service  shares action-packed stories from the agency’s past, covering key moments of American history you only think you know about, and how the Secret Service’s untenable downward spiral is set to repeat some of American history’s darkest days including the assassinations of Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley, and John and Robert Kennedy – as well as the foiled attempts on the lives of Jackson, Teddy and Franklin Roosevelt, Truman, Ford, Reagan, both Presidents Bush, Clinton, Obama, and Trump.

Secrets of the Secret Service is a unique behind-the-scenes look at what makes the Secret Service tick. It gives the reader an appreciation for the challenges they face every day, from internal and external threats. And it shows the way forward for an agency at a crossroads.

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The Square and the Tower: Networks and Power, from the Freemasons to Facebook by  Niall Ferguson

square and the tower“Brilliantly illuminates the great power struggle between networks and hierarchies that is raging around the world today…Silicon Valley needed a history lesson and Ferguson has provided it.”
-Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman of Alphabet, the parent company of Google

A brilliant recasting of the turning points in world history, including the one we’re living through, as a collision between old power hierarchies and new social networks.

Most history is hierarchical: it’s about emperors, presidents, prime ministers and field marshals. It’s about states, armies and corporations. It’s about orders from on high. Even history “from below” is often about trade unions and workers’ parties. But what if that’s simply because hierarchical institutions create the archives that historians rely on? What if we are missing the informal, less well documented social networks that are the true sources of power and drivers of change?

The 21st century has been hailed as the Age of Networks. However, in The Square and the Tower, Niall Ferguson argues that networks have always been with us, from the structure of the brain to the food chain, from the family tree to freemasonry. Throughout history, hierarchies housed in high towers have claimed to rule, but often real power has resided in the networks in the town square below. For it is networks that tend to innovate. And it is through networks that revolutionary ideas can contagiously spread. Just because conspiracy theorists like to fantasize about such networks doesn’t mean they are not real.

From the cults of ancient Rome to the dynasties of the Renaissance, from the founding fathers to Facebook, The Square and the Tower tells the story of the rise, fall and rise of networks, and shows how network theory–concepts such as clustering, degrees of separation, weak ties, contagions and phase transitions–can transform our understanding of both the past and the present.

Just as The Ascent of Money put Wall Street into historical perspective, so The Square and the Tower does the same for Silicon Valley. And it offers a bold prediction about which hierarchies will withstand this latest wave of network disruption–and which will be toppled.

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The Wizard and the Prophet: Two Remarkable Scientists and Their Dueling Visions to Shape Tomorrow’s World by  Charles C. Mann

wizard and the prophetFrom the best-selling, award-winning author of 1491 and 1493–an incisive portrait of the two little-known twentieth-century scientists, Norman Borlaug and William Vogt, whose diametrically opposed views shaped our ideas about the environment, laying the groundwork for how people in the twenty-first century will choose to live in tomorrow’s world.

In forty years, Earth’s population will reach ten billion. Can our world support that? What kind of world will it be? Those answering these questions generally fall into two deeply divided groups–Wizards and Prophets, as Charles Mann calls them in this balanced, authoritative, nonpolemical new book. The Prophets, he explains, follow William Vogt, a founding environmentalist who believed that in using more than our planet has to give, our prosperity will lead us to ruin. Cut back! was his mantra. Otherwise everyone will lose! The Wizards are the heirs of Norman Borlaug, whose research, in effect, wrangled the world in service to our species to produce modern high-yield crops that then saved millions from starvation. Innovate! was Borlaug’s cry. Only in that way can everyone win! Mann delves into these diverging viewpoints to assess the four great challenges humanity faces–food, water, energy, climate change–grounding each in historical context and weighing the options for the future. With our civilization on the line, the author’s insightful analysis is an essential addition to the urgent conversation about how our children will fare on an increasingly crowded Earth.

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