Looking for recently-published books to read? Here are some possibilities      

By Jamie H. Vaught



Here's a partial list of newly-published, nonfiction books (in no particular order) that you may want to consider for your home library:


--"Strong Inside: Perry Wallace and the Collision of Race and Sports in the South" (Vanderbilt University Press, $35.00) by Andrew Maraniss is a biography that reveals the untold story of basketball pioneer Perry Wallace, who was the first African-American basketball player in the Southeastern Conference.  Wallace, now a professor of law at American University in Washington, D.C., made history at Vanderbilt in his hometown of Nashville and there are many SEC stories in this unforgettable 472-page book.


While at Pearl High School in Nashville, Wallace seriously considered UK. Wildcat assistant coaches Harry Lancaster and Joe B. Hall did the recruiting work for Kentucky. If coach Adolph Rupp had spent more time with Wallace and given him a "personal touch," the Nashville product might have gone to Lexington, according to the book. 


The author, also a graduate of Vanderbilt, first interviewed Wallace in 1989 for a black history class. Maraniss formerly worked in the media relations department at Vandy's athletic department and was the first-ever media relations manager for the Tampa Bay Rays.  The author is also the son of Pultizer Prize-winning journalist and author David Maraniss.


--"Parcells: A Football Life" (Crown Archetype, $30.00) by Bill Parcells and Nunyo Demasio is a 544-page biography about the former NFL coach.  Parcells, as you may recall, once considered taking the head coaching position at UK in 2002 and this incident is mentioned briefly (about three pages) in the book.  As stated in the news release by the publisher, the hardcover is a front-row seat to a history lesson in the NFL over the past 30 years and football over the last half century.


--"The Matheny Manifesto" (Crown Archetype, $24.00) by Mike Matheny with Jerry Jenkins is an inspirational story about a baseball manager's old-school views on success in sports and life.  The St. Louis Cardinals boss discusses how the team came together, grew slowly, learned from failure, and eventually developed into winners on the field and in character. He also shares life stories of his small-town childhood as well as his career. Youthful-looking Matheny has led the Cardinals to the postseason in each of his first three years as the skipper.


--"George H. W. Bush: Character at the Core" (Potomac Books, $29.95) by Curt Smith is a delightful profile of President Bush, showing how Bush's courtesy and belief in work, religion and American exceptionalism helped him connect with the Middle America. The author -- who worked with Bush for more than 20 years, including his stint as a White House speechwriter -- explores Bush's political life, including as Vice President to President Reagan. The book also discusses the invasion of Panama, the first Gulf War, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Iron Curtain, among many topics.


--"You Can't Make This Up" (William Morrow, $28.99) by Al Michaels with Jon Wertheim is an insightful memior about one of the nation's most popular television sportscasters. Michaels, who has logged more hours on live network TV than any other broadcaster in history, shares never-before-told personal stories from his early days and his rise to the top. According to a news release from the publisher, Michaels tells the truth as he sees it, giving readers unique insight into the high drama, the colorful players, and the heroes and occasional villains of an industry that has become a vital part of modern culture.  Michaels is also the only play-by-play commentator to have covered all four major sports championships -- the Super Bowl, World Series, NBA Finals and the Stanley Cup Final. 


--"Believer: My Forty Years in Politics" (Penguin Press, $35.00) by David Axelrod is a remarkable 511-page account of his political career, including his 25-year friendship with President Obama.  Axelrod, who served as a senior advisor to Obama in the White House, also offers a deeper and richer profile of the current president. The author once served as a political strategist for presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton and John Edwards.  Noted author Doris Kearns Goodwin wrote an advance praise for the book, saying it "is one of the finest political memoirs I have ever read." Said Republican strategist Mike Murphy, "Anybody, Democrat or Republican, who loves politics should read this book."


--"The Closer: My Story" (Little, Brown, $28.00) by Mariano Rivera with Wayne Coffey is a memoir by a 13-time All-Star pitcher who is often listed with Ruth, Mantle, Gehrig, DiMaggio and Jeter as one of the top six Yankees in history. The major league baseball's all-time saves leader takes the readers into the Yankees clubhouse where his teammates are his brothers, and also discusses the struggles of being a Latino baseball player in the U.S. as well as the challenges of maintaining deeply Christian values in pro sports.


--"It's Awesome, Baby!" (Ascend Books, $28.95) by ESPN's Dick Vitale with Dick Weiss and Joan Williamson is a story of Vitale's 75 years of memories and a lifetime of opinions on the basketball game he loves. Click here for the previously-published review of the 256-page book.


  --"Citizen Coke: The Making of Coca-Cola Capitalism" (W.W. Norton and Company, $27.95) by Bartow J. Elmore is a fascinating history of one of the world's most iconic brands.  The 416-page book is written by a professor who grew up drinking Coke in Atlanta where the Coca-Cola's corporate headquarters are located. Whether readers see Coke's business strategy as genius or ruthless, they may never look at the familiar red-and-white swoosh the same again.


--"For God, Country, and Coca-Cola" (Basic Books, $21.99) by Mark Pendergrast is a revised and expanded third edition paperback, revisiting the history and future of Coca-Cola in 524 pages. It covers the good and the bad about this famous soft drink company, which is based in Atlanta, Georgia.  As a commentator in the book noted, "Coca-Cola is more durable, less vulnerable, more self-correcting than the Roman Empire. This product is destined to outlast the USA."  The author, by the way, grew up on West Paces Ferry Road, once known as "Coca-Cola Row," in Atlanta.


--"The Stranger: Barack Obama in the White House" (Little, Brown and Company, $29.00) by Chuck Todd is a 519-page effort that attempts to offer a unique examination of President Obama's successes and struggles in the White House. With hundreds of interviews, including with the president, the book not only discusses politics, but also the psychology of the presidency. For instance, who is Barack Obama once the spotlight is turned off? The author is the moderator of Meet the Press and political director for NBC News.




More nonfiction books may be added to this list in the coming weeks.


Posted January 26, 2015

Updated February 20. 2015 & Feb. 26, 2015