By Jamie H. Vaught



Do you need some help with Christmas presents for your loved ones or friends?


We have an idea!  How about a book or two as a holiday gift?  That would be a good possibility for someone who is an avid reader.


Here's a partial list of recently-published, nonfiction books (in no particular order) with many of them getting good reviews already:


--"Wildcat Memories: Inside Stories from Kentucky Basketball Greats" (University Press of Kentucky, $17.95) by Doug Brunk is a fun read through UK hoops history. In candid first-hand accounts, the players and coaches recall their careers and stories as the inside members of the Big Blue Nation. Former UK All-American Dan Issel wrote the foreword in the 249-page paperback.


--Another Kentucky Wildcat-oriented book, "Voice of the Wildcats: Claude Sullivan and the Rise of Modern Sportscasting" (University Press of Kentucky, $29.95) by Alan Sullivan with Joe Cox is a biography about the former UK announcer. (This book has been reviewed recently elsewhere on


--"My Conference Can Beat Your Conference: Why the SEC Still Rules College Football" (Harper, $26.99) by Paul Finebaum and Gene Wojciechowski is an entertaining 275-page hardcover, offering an all-access pass to the powerhouse teams and passionate fan bases of the Southeastern Conference.  It is filled with fascinating stories and Finebaum of the SEC Network is outspoken with his unvarnished opinions.


--"Big Red: Baseball, Fatherhood, and My Life in the Big Red Machine" (Triumph Books, $25.95) by Ken Griffey Sr. and Phil Pepe is an autobiography, reflecting on Griffey's 19-year major league career. He once played in the same outfield with his superstar son, Ken Griffey Jr.  It obviously would make a nice gift for a Reds fan.


--"Paterno Legacy: Enduring Lessons from the Life and Death of My Father" (Triumph Books, $26.95) by Jay Paterno is a revealing story about his legendary father, Joe Paterno, who coached football at Penn State. Whether you are a fan of Paterno or simply curious as to the events surrounding the horrific scandal involving his assistant coach which forced Paterno to resign from his job.  The author paints a full picture of his father's life and career as well as discussing the case of an innocent man convicted by the media for a crime in which he virtually had no part.


--"The Roosevelts: An Intimate History" (Alfred A. Knopf, $60.00) by Geoffrey C. Ward and Ken Burns is a companion volume  to the seven-part PBS documentary series. This impressive 504-page -- loaded with 796 photographs, some never before seen -- present an intimate history of three extraordinary individuals from the same extraordinary family -- Teddy, Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt.  If you love history, it is a superb addition to your library.


--"41: A Portrait of My Father" (Crown, $28.00) by ex-President George W. Bush takes us through the life and leadership of his father, George H.W. Bush, the 41st President. More than a biography, the 294-page book provides insights into the lessons learned by a son from watching a man he admires and adores.  The author discusses how his father's quiet, steady emotional support carried him through difficult times.


--"Ted Williams, My Father" (Ecco/HarperCollins, $26.99) is written by Claudia Williams, the last surviving child of the legendary Boston Red Sox hitter.  It is a 309-page biography that tells the story of a complicated man and the family he loved.  


--"Rickey & Robinson: The True, Untold Story of the Integration of Baseball" (Rodale Books, $25.99) by Roger Kahn tells the story of Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey integrating the major league baseball like no other book or film has done before.  The author, now 87, is one of the few people still alive to share their personal, firsthand experiences of the early days when he regularly covered the Brooklyn Dodgers, Robinson's team.  Kahn, who wrote the 1972 classic "The Boys of Summer," is regarded as the country's greatest living sportswriter.


--"Worthy Fights" (Penguin Press, $36.00) by former U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta with Jim Newton is a political memoir which includes his insights and stories about his bosses Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, among others.  When he was the defense secretary, Panetta wrote that he would spend a few quiet hours away from daily interruptions to read, consider and sign letters to the families of military personnel who had died for their country.  If you like reading political-oriented books, you'll enjoy this 498-page copy.


--"Stonewalled" (Harper, $27.99) by CBS reporter Sharyl Attkisson reveals how she has been electronically surveilled while digging deep into the Obama Administration and its scandals, and offers an incisive critique of her industry and the shrinking role of investigative journalism in today’s media. Americans are at the mercy of powerful figures in business and government who are virtually unaccountable. Attkisson has been a journalist for more than 30 years. During that time she has exposed scandals and covered controversies under both Republican and Democratic administrations. She has also seen the opponents of transparency go to ever greater lengths to discourage and obstruct legitimate reporting.  The author recounts her personal tale, setting it against the larger story of the decline of investigative journalism and unbiased truth telling in America today.


--"How Google Works" (Grand Central Publishing, $30.00) by Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg with Alan Eagle offers unprecedented access to global icon's practices and the philosophies that define Google's unique culture, values and strategies. The authors commented that having smart-creative people along with a supporting environment is the best way to succeed in business and the 286-page book explains how to do just that.


--"Nixon Secrets: The Rise, Fall and Untold Truth about the President, Watergate and the Pardon" (Skyhorse Publishing, $24.95) by Roger Stone gives the readers the inside and revealing scoop on President Nixon's rise and fall in Watergate in a 669-page book. The author, a Washington Insider, was the youngest member of the Nixon staff in 1972 and was credited with Nixon's rehabilitation in his post-presidential years.


--"Act Like A Success, Think Like A Success" (Amistad/HarperCollins, $25.99) by Steve Harvey offers a step-by-step blueprint for achieving success, sharing his remarkable path to success and providing a plan for achieving it.  The book is loaded with anecdotes and practical suggestions on achieving great things in life.


--"The Price of Silence" (Scribner, $35.00) by William D. Cohan is a stunning new account of the 2006 Duke lacrosse team scandal, discussing the rape that night in question, the local police investigation, Duke's actions, the players' defense tactics and the campus politics in 653 pages.  The author, by the way, is a Duke alumnus and an author of three N.Y. Times bestsellers who has appeared on numerous TV network shows.


--"The News Sorority" (Penguin Press, $29.95) by Sheila Weller looks at the lives of three well-known television newswomen -- Diane Sawyer, Katie Couric and Christiane Amanpour. The 483-page book reveals how three women made use of their unique talents to infiltrate the newsroom boys club to become media stars.


--"Nick Saban vs. College Football: The Case for College Football's Greatest Coach" (Triumph Books, $14.95) by Christopher Walsh is a must-read for longtime Alabama fans as well as college pigskin buffs across the country.


--"Landslide: LBJ and Ronald Reagan at the Dawn of a New America" (Random House, $30.00) by Jonathan Darman is a 449-page effort that tells the story of two political giants -- Lyndon Johnson and Reagan -- and how they changed American politics.  Wrote TV newswoman Lesley Stahl, "Landslide is full of surprises and new insights on these two presidents, and is written with flair. This is a delicious feast of a read."


Posted November 28, 2014

Updated December 13, 2014

Looking for new books to read? Here are some ideas