Summer 2014 Nonfiction Preview: Books on Clinton, Whale Wars, Crossfit, and More
Wars over the environment, the changing nature of business, the political career of Hillary Clinton, and the perilous state of journalism: These are just a few of the pressing subjects addressed in this summer’s cream-of-the-crop nonfiction. Whether you’re a history buff, an adventure-reader, or a book-lover looking for insight into the lives of great writers, our list of this season’s top books will help you decide which tomes to dive into this summer.
Primal, viral, and sweaty
You know an exercise regimen has become a true phenomenon when a former New York Times columnist—and self-professed fanatic—decides to write a whole book about it. In Learning to Breathe Fire, J.C. Herz gives CrossFit its literary due, tracing its origin, its rapid surge in popularity, and its ramifications for health and fitness practices worldwide.
On shelves: June 3
Mourning and memory in Mexico City
Francisco Goldman’s novel Say Her Name, a fictional account of the accidental death of his wife in Mexico, was one of the most celebrated novels of 2011, earning Goldman France’s prestigious Prix Femina Etranger. Now, in The Interior Circuit, he documents his return to Mexico City five years later. Braiding the personal and the cultural, he recounts his attempt to process his grief while immersing himself in the increasingly turbulent political life of the city.
On shelves: June 9
History in the making
Will Hillary Clinton run for president in 2016? While the question looms in the minds of many, two forthcoming books promise, at the very least, to give more details about her life, career, and personal convictions. First up is Hard Choices, her much-anticipated memoir of her time as Secretary of State. Later in the summer, look forward to Weekly Standard editor Daniel Halper’s Clinton, Inc., a survey of the “brilliant calculations, secret deals, and occasionally treacherous maneuverings” behind the Clintons’ return to the American political spotlight.
On shelves: June 10 (Hard Choices) and July 22 (Clinton, Inc.)
Revered, reviled, and resolute as ever
In Scalia, civil rights scholar Bruce Allen Murphy offers a detailed biography Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, examining his early, meteoric rise and the various maverick maneuvers that have made him one of the most contentious figures in American law and politics today.
On shelves: June 10
Oh, the obscenity!
You laugh at the idea of an obscenity trial over Ulysses. Then, you read the Molly Bloom section and begin to understand why, just maybe, the book caused such a stir stateside when it was first published in the 1920s. In The Most Dangerous Book, Kevin Birmingham offers a comprehensive account of the legal brouhaha over one of English literature’s most celebrated works, as well as the story of how the novel—first conceived of by Joyce in 1904—came to be in the first place.
On shelves: June 12
Capulets and Montagues in the White House
Democrats look to the Obamas and Clintons as twin pillars of progressive politics, and it can be easy, in juxtaposing their platforms and ideals, to assume the two families are on good terms. But in Blood Feud, former New York Times editor-in-chief and bestselling author Edward Klein (The Amateur) argues that the clans are, in fact, bitter rivals, with an abundance of “animosity, jealousy, and competition” between them. With Hilary’s probable candidacy announcement on the horizon, Blood Feud promises to be a juicy and relevant addition to this season’s political conversation.
On shelves: June 23
A whale of an environmental battle
In this “real-life thriller” sure to lure fans of last year’s hit documentary Blackfish, Joshua Horwitz chronicles a battle between an environmentally-minded attorney and the U.S. Navy over an underwater submarine detection system that inadvertently led to the mass beachings of whales.
On shelves: July 1
Lessons on linking in a new business climate
In his forthcoming book, LinkedIn Executive Chairman Reid Hoffman discusses the changing nature of the manager-employee relationship in an age dominated by industry shakeups, new technologies, and an increasingly common “free agent” work model. He argues that, in order to adapt to the new business climate, managers should think of employees not as underlings but as allies, who work best when treated as unique individuals and tasked with specific “tours of duty.”
On shelves: July 8
In the shadow of a recluse
Since the publication of her classic novel To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee has refused, almost without exception, to give interviews or engage in publicity of any kind. She made a significant exception in 2004, when she permitted a Chicago Tribune reporter, Marja Mills, to move into the house next door and interview her and her sister, Alice, over a period of eighteen months. In The Mockingbird Next Door, Mills describes her time living in Monroeville, Alabama, befriending the Lee sisters and enjoying unprecedented access to the one of the most respected—and reclusive—American authors living today.
On shelves: July 15
Old wounds revisited
President Richard Nixon recorded every word of official business spoken at the White House, Camp David, and other important locations, but, until now, less than five percent of the more than 3,000 hours of recorded conversation has been made available to the public. Douglas Brinkley and Luke Nichter's book, The Nixon Tapes, comes out of a massive effort to digitize the remainder of the tapes. The book brings to light a number crucial conversations, touching on subjects ranging from diplomatic relations to arms agreements, that took place in the months leading up to the Watergate scandal.
On shelves: July 29
The fall of Rupert
Most of us are glancingly familiar with the hacking scandal that led to the closure of the UK paper News of the World and the consequent discrediting of its owner, media mogul Rupert Murdoch. But, for a detailed chronicle of the incident, and a contemplation of its significance for the ever-shifting media landscape, look no further than Hack Attack, a “definitive” account of the scandal authored by The Guardian reporter who helped to uncover it.
On shelves: August 5
Thrills and chills at the top of the world
In his forthcoming book, award-winning author and Outside magazine editor Hampton Sides chronicles a troubled mission to the North Pole made during late nineteenth century. Tracking the USS Jeanette crew’s progress from their San Francisco departure to their eventual shipwreck and voyage on foot across seas of ice, Sides mixes history and adventure in a book that promises big entertainment.
On shelves: August 5
The brilliance of the buddy system
In Powers of Two, Joshua Wolf Shenk, who has previously written about the role of depression in Lincoln’s politics, examines the properties and benefits of interpersonal chemistry. Drawing on cutting-edge science and data about famous duos in history—Jobs and Wozniak, Lennon and McCartney, the two Curies, etc.—he argues that the pair is the “primary embodiment” of creativity.
On shelves: August 5
A literary powerhouse laid bare
Susan Sontag has always been a person of great interest, but fascination with her life has never been stronger than in the last few years, with number of books—including two volumes of her journals and an unabridged Rolling Stone interview—helping readers to piece together the life and mind of the controversial writer-critic. In his forthcoming biography, Daniel Schreiber compiles Sontag’s writings, correspondence, and interviews with friends and family to offer further insight into her life. His take isn’t the first and won’t be the last: According to a New Yorker article from January, literary critic and Clarice Lispector biographer Benjamin Moser is also at work on a life of the writer.
On shelves: August 15
Revolution, or fad?
Much hay has been made of mindfulness lately. In January, TIME magazine devoted a cover story the growing popularity of the Buddhist spiritual practice, and the New Yorker and New York Times have jumped on the bandwagon with their own takes. Now, in his forthcoming book, Mindful America, religious scholar Jeff Wilson offers a comprehensive—and decidedly critical—assessment of the phenomenon, showing how America has “domesticated” Buddhism for its own purposes while stripping the practice of its history, nuance, and religious particularity.
On shelves: August 2014