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BOOKSHELF: Unauthorized Biography of Alabama Coach Is Enjoyable Read


Compiled by Editor Jamie H. Vaught

Here's a list of recently-published works (mostly nonfiction), in no particular order, with many of them highly-reviewed:

--"Saban: The Making of a Coach" by Monte Burke (Simon & Schuster, $27.00) is a 342-page hardcover the Alabama football mentor doesn't want you to read. The demanding coach, who grew up in mountainous West Virginia, isn't smiling about the unauthorized biography which is written by a Forbes journalist. Remember the Bluegrass Miracle? Saban was the LSU coach in 2002 when the Tigers stunned Kentucky with a last-second TD on a Hail Mary pass in Lexington.


With interviews of more than 250 friends, coworkers, rivals and former players, the book shows a complex and compelling man, who is shaped by both his part and the game he loves. Even though I'm not finished reading (with 25 percent to go), you will enjoy this objective book if you're a football fan.

There were many behind-the-scenes episodes. I particularly enjoyed the part when a recruit's 12-year-old brother surprisingly asked Saban a pointed question during a recruiting visit, "How come you get so mad when they pour Gatorade on you?" Saban was kind of shocked and you'll have read the rest of the story to find out.

Another tidbit that I liked was the fact the visitors' dressing room at Bryant-Denny Stadium was named after a booster whose last name is "Fail." Saban loved it.

SEC Network's Paul Finebaum liked the book and wrote a blurb for the back cover, commenting, "An eye-opening book. Monte Burke has finally taken us behind the great big curtain and for the first time, shown us who Nick Saban really is and what makes him tick. I couldn't put this book down. For all college football fans, this is a must read."


--"The Senator Next Door: A Memoir from the Heartland" by Amy Klobuchar (Henry Holt and Company, $30.00) is a story about how the girl next door decided to enter the fray and make a difference. The plainspoken U.S. Senator from Minnesota is one of the most candid and funniest women you will find in Washington, D.C. She is the daughter of a newspaperman and a school teacher.


--"Plenty Ladylike: A Memoir" by Claire McCaskill with Terry Ganey (Simon Schuster, $26.00) is an inspiring story of the U.S. Senator from Missouri who earned a law degree and paid her way through school by working as a waitress. The former high school homecoming queen describes her uphill battle to become who she is today, from her failed first marriage to a Kansas City car dealer—the father of her three children—to her current marriage to a Missouri businessman. She writes about her ups and downs with the Clintons and her long-shot reelection as senator after secretly helping to nominate a right-wing extremist as her opponent.


--"Billion-Dollar Ball: A Journey Through the Big-Money Culture of College Football" by Gilbert M. Gaul (Viking, $27.95) is a look inside the money culture of college football and how it has come to dominate a surprising number of colleges and universities which become astonishingly rich entertainment factories. It raises serious questions about the balance between sports and academics in today's universities. The author, who is a two-time Pultizer Prize-winning journalist, says the largest schools are spending 10 times more on their football players than on their smartest, most ambitious students.


--"The Nixon Tapes: 1973" by co-editors Douglas Brinkley and Luke Nichter (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $35) is a 784-page volume that covers the final year of the President Richard Nixon taping system. The publisher points out the infamous Nixon taping system has captured 3,700 hours of Oval Office, Cabinet Room, and Camp David conversations between 1971 and 1973, automatically taping every single word spoken. These audio recordings were released over the past decade by the National Archives, but only fewer than five percent of them have been transcribed and published—until now. The 1971 and '72 recorded conversations were covered in the authors' first book, "The Nixon Tapes: 1971-72," a New York Times bestseller which was published in August of 2014. The Nixon Tapes, with annotations and commentary by the authors, offers a selection of fascinating scenes in the Nixon White House.


--"Foreign Blood" by Will B. Ayers (W. Bruce Ayers, $14.95) is a reviting and suspenseful mystery that takes readers from a fishery on the Baltic Sea to the Appalachian Mountains of Kentucky. The paperback follows the fate of two young Estonian siblings and the coal mining community to which they were sent after the death of their parents. And the FBI, Interpol, Kentucky State Police and Harlan County Sheriff’s Office became involved in a murder investigation. The novel is an international story based in Harlan County in southeast Kentucky. The author, Dr. Ayers, is a retired president of Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College.


--"Never Enough: Donald Trump and the Pursuit of Success" by Michael D'Antonio (Thomas Dunne Books, $26.99) is a biography about an American billionaire and celebrity who is running for President. The 389-page book had originally been planned for publication in January 2016, but moved to September in response to increasing interest in presidential candidate Trump. Drawing upon interviews with Trump and many of his family members, including his ex-wives, the author presents the full story of the successful businessman from his early days to his stormy romantic life and his pursuit of power in its many forms. Before becoming a fulltime author, D'Antonio wrote for Esquire,The New York Times Magazine, Sports Illustrated, among others. In a recent book review, the New York Times commented, "Never Enough is an admirably straight­forward, evenhanded but nonetheless damning account of Trump's life."


--"The Kentucky Wildcats Fans' Bucket List" by Ryan Clark and Joe Cox (Triumph Books. $16.95) is a very unique book filled with collection of activities and experiences for all faithful Wildcat fans. The 257-page paperback provides ideas, recommendations, and insider tips for must-see places and can't-miss activities, especially near the UK campus. Whether you're attending every home game or supporting the Wildcats from home, there's something in the book for every fan to do. Co-author Joe Cox, by the way, is contributing editor for KySportsStyle.com magazine and has previously written three books on UK athletics.


--"You Win in the Locker Room First: The 7 C's to Build a Winning Team in Business, Sports, and Life" by Jon Gordon and Mike Smith (Wiley, $23) is a behind-the-scenes look at one of the most pressure-packed leadership jobs and what leaders can learn from these experiences in order to build their own winning team. It is a book that any business, school, organization, or sports team can adopt to revitalize their organization. One of the authors, Smith is the former head coach of the Atlanta Falcons in the National Football League.


--"The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload" by Daniel Levitin (Plume, $17.00) looks at an issue that affects everyone in the digital age -- organization. It’s the reason that some people are more adept than others at managing today’s massive flow of data. The new paperback explains the science behind their success and — with chapters targeted specifically to business readers — shows how all of us can make small but crucial changes to regain mastery over our lives.


--"A Full Life: Reflections At Ninety" by Jimmy Carter (Simon Schuster, $28.00) is a heartwarming story about his public and private life. Carter -- the peanut farmer from Plains, Ga., who turned 91 on October 1 -- was elected president in 1976. A Nobel Peace Prize winner in 2002, Carter has written more than two dozen books. His latest book discusses his regret at losing his re-election to Ronald Reagan, racism during his boyhood, among other topics. Carter announced recently that he is battling cancer.


--"Last Act: The Final Years and Emerging Legacy of Ronald Reagan" by Craig Shirley (Nelson Books, $26.99) is an important final chapter in the life of President Reagan that no one has thus far covered, containing many untold anecdotes about Reagan and his wife. It's also the kind of book that widens our understanding of American history and of the presidency and the men who occupied it. The author, who also has written two other Reagan books, has the support of the Reagan Foundation and Library, and spent considerable time there reviewing sealed files and confidential information.


--"James Madison: A Life Reconsidered" by Lynne Cheney (Penguin Books, $18.00) is now available in a 576-page paperback. It is a highly-reviewed biography of one of the leading Americans who was our nation's fourth president. As secretary of state under President Thomas Jefferson, Madison handled the Louisiana Purchase, doubling the size of the U.S. As president, he guided the country in its first war under the Constitution, the War of 1812. Wrote Washington Post, "Cheney might have written a book that made Madison a prop in today’s political battles. She did not, which is greatly to her credit and true to the life of the man." A best-selling author, Cheney is the wife of former Vice President Dick Cheney.


--"Rising to the Challenge: My Leadership Journey" by Carly Fiorina (Sentinel, $26.95) is a story about the former Hewlett-Packard CEO who has faced a new round of challenges. Since the 2006 book, "Tough Choices, Fiorina ran for the Senate as a Republican in deep-blue California but was unable to unseat the incumbent. She has battled breast cancer and suffered the loss of a beloved daughter. Fiorina discusses the hopeful lessons she’s learned from both her difficulties and triumphs. Currently, she is running for president.


--"Intangiball: The Subtle Things That Win Baseball Games" by Lonnie Wheeler (Simon & Schuster, $26.00) looks at the intangibles -- grit, hustle, chemistry, professionalism and character -- which are still very important even during the explosive era of statistical analysis. Booklist says the author offers a strong counterbalance to the culture of sabermetrics that has all but kidnapped major league baseball. Wheeler is a former sportswriter who has written books with baseball stars Hank Aaron, Bob Gibson and Mike Piazza.


--"Twelve Yards: The Art and Psychology of the Perfect Penalty Kick" by Ben Lyttleton (Penguin Books, $16.00) is a new paperback about the game of soccer, focusing on the penalty kick, the sport's all-or-nothing play as well as its legendary moments and the secrets to its success.


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