Compiled by Editor Jamie H. Vaught
This is the last of a three-part series about your possible summer readings.
--“Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee” by Charles J. Shields (Henry Holt and Company, $26.00) is a revised and updated biography of Lee, who wrote “To Kill a Mockingbird,” a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel which was published in 1960. A good portion of this in-depth biography, which was first published in 2006, is filled with brand new material -- 50,000 words. Ms. Lee, who passed away in February of 2016 at the age of 89 in Alabama, was a reclusive and down-to-earth woman who avoided publicity. In 2007, Lee was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush. Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” is one of the most widely read novels in American literature with sales of more than 40 million to date. Wrote Garrison Keillor of the New York Times Book Review, “Shields (author) is a scrupulous journalist who respects Lee’s privacy even he opens up her life. This biography will not disappoint those who loved the novel and the feisty, independent, fiercely loyal Scout in whom Harper Lee put so much of herself.”
--"The Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance" by Angela Duckworth (Scribner, $28.00) is a powerful story that shows anyone striving to succeed that the secret to outstanding achievement is not talent but a special blend of passion and persistence the author calls "grit." The hardcover takes the readers into the field to visit cadets struggling through their first days at West Point, teachers working in some of the toughest schools, and young finalists in the National Spelling Bee. A professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania who has advised the White House, the World Bank, NBA and NFL teams, and Fortune 500 CEOs, Duckworth also shares what she's learned from interviewing high achievers such as Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon, New Yorker cartoon editor Bob Mankoff, among others. Grit is an insightful and personal book about what goes through your head when you fall down, and how that — not talent or luck — makes all the difference.
--“The Rainbow Comes and Goes: A Mother and Son on Life, Live and Loss” by Anderson Cooper and Gloria Vanderbilt (Harper, $27.99) offers wisdom and a revealing glimpse into their celebrity and fascinating lives. The inspirational 290-page hardback is actually a mixture of memoir and advice, and reveals the close relationship between CNN journalist Cooper and his 91-year-old mother -- who is an artist, writer and designer -- despite living in two different worlds.
--"Government Gone Wild: How D.C. Politicians Are Taking You for a Ride -- and What You Can Do About It" by Kristin Tate (Center Street, $26.00) is an entertaining look about what's broken in our federal government while giving advice to readers on how they can fix it. The 294-page book isn't about Democrats vs. Republicans. It's about encouraging the folks to begin correcting our nation's past mistakes and helping U.S. once again become a more prosperous nation. I've read the first 60 pages or so and it's an enjoyable book on various issues such as social security, taxes, defense, among several topics. Just keep an "open" mind on the issues and you'll like the volume. "It took me about two years to write Government Gone Wild," said the author in a brief interview with this writer. "For me, it wasn't difficult to write the initial draft because I'm so full of ideas -- getting those ideas down on paper was easy. What was harder for me was taking that initial draft and editing it into one cohesive book that flowed well. The editing and rewriting process took most of the time." Tate is a political columnist based in New York City whose work has been featured in the National Review, The Hill, the Washington Times, Fox Nation, Real Clear Politics, the Daily Caller, among others.
--"The President's Book of Secrets: The Untold Story of Intelligence Briefings to America's Presidents from Kennedy to Obama" by David Priess (Public Affairs, $29.99) is a fascinating look into the operation of power at the highest levels with many character-rich stories. Every president is offered a daily report detailing the most sensitive activities and analysis of global threats. The author, who was a former intelligence officer and daily briefer, has interviewed every living president and vice president as well as more than 100 others closely involved with the production and delivery of the president's book of secrets. Priess, who has a PhD in political science from Duke University, served during the Bill Clinton and George W. Bush administrations as an officer for CIA. He also worked at the State Department.
--“The Grind: Inside Baseball’s Endless Season” by Barry Svrluga (Blue Rider Press, $16.00) is now available in paperback. It's a colorful and intimate story at the wear-and-tear nature that goes on during the longest season in sports -- 162-game Major League Baseball schedule. The 187-page book, written by the national baseball writer for The Washington Post, captures the frustration and glory felt by the 2014 Washington Nationals and their families.
--“Game of Crowns: Elizabeth, Camilla, Kate and the Throne” by Christopher Andersen (Gallery Books, $28.00) is a juicy look about three remarkable women -- Queen Elizabeth, Camilla Parker Bowles and Kate Middleton. Andersen, a well-known biographer who has written numerous bestsellers, takes the readers behind the walls of Buckingham Palace with stories on relationships and rivalries among the three celebrities. The somewhat scandalous book also reveals several interesting pieces, including Prince Charles’ strategy to make Camilla his queen, breaking the promise he made to the British folks when he married her.
--“Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of NIKE” by Phil Knight (Scribner, $29.00) is a candid and humble life story about the Nike founder and board chairman. Knight shares the inside story of the firm’s early days as a start-up and its rise into one of the world’s most famous brands. Just fresh out of business school, the author borrowed $50 from his dad and established a company so it can import high-quality, low-cost running shoes from Japan and the rest is history.
--"Ego Is the Enemy" by Ryan Holiday (Portfolio, $25.00) offers a honest portrait of how we let our egos seduce us, and provides valuable advice for how we can overcome them. The author also wrote bestselling "In The Obstacle Is The Way," which introduced readers to the world of Stoic philosophy. And now his latest book delivers practical and inspiring philosophy to people who need it, picking up on a powerful concept that runs back centuries. The author draws on a vast array of stories and examples, from literature to philosophy to history to his own experience advising many high-profile clients.
--"John Quincy Adams: Militant Spirit" by James Traub (Basic Books, $35.00) is a lengthy biography about our nation's sixth president (1825 to 1829) who was the last of his kind — a Puritan from the age of the Founders who despised party and compromise, yet dedicated himself to politics and government. The son of U.S. second president John Adams, he was a diplomat and a frustrated president at a historic turning point in American politics, and later served as a congressman. He died at the age of 80 in the midst of a political debate. Drawing on Adams’ diary, letters, and writings, the author tells the story of this brilliant and unyielding man whose life exemplified political courage.
--“Crucible of Command: Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee – The War They Fought, The Peace They Forged” by William C. Davis (Da Capo Press, $32.50 hardcover, $22.50 paperback) is a dual biography of two legendary leaders: how they fought a bloody, brutal Civil War then forged a lasting peace that changed our country. The author explores their personalities, their character, and their ethical, moral, political and military worlds. Interestingly, these two men met in person only four times. Davis, by the way, is one of top Civil War historians and has authored or edited more than 50 books.
--"Crisis of Character: A White House Secret Service Officer Discloses His Firsthand Experience with Hillary, Bill, and How They Operate" by Gary J. Byrne (Center Street, $27.00) is a revealing observation about Hillary Clinton's character and the culture inside the dysfunctional Clinton White House while protecting the First Family. Obviously, it's a controversial hardcover the Clinton Campaign doesn't want you to have.
--"Getting Real" by Gretchen Carlson (Penguin Books, $16.00) is a candid memoir from a former Miss America Pageant winner. Now available in 260-page paperback, the author/television news anchorwoman, who grew up in Minnesota, opens up the conversation of what it means to be an ambitious and attractive career woman today. Yes, the former Fox News anchor is the same woman who recently made the national news after filing a sexual harassment lawsuit against chairman and CEO Roger Ailes, who eventually resigned from his position.
--"Trump Revealed: An American Journey of Ambition, Ego, Money and Power" by Michael Kranish and Marc Fisher (Scribner, $28.00) is a deeply researched biography of presidential candidate Donald Trump, which is scheduled for release in late August. According to the publisher, the book will be reported by a team of award-winning Washington Post journalists and co-authored by investigative political reporter in Kranish and senior editor in Fisher. Despite many years of scrutiny, numerous aspects of Trump's life are not well known, but authors, who also interviewed Trump, scrutinize everything about the candidate. It is anticipated the book will be more negative than Trump and his fans would like.
--“We the People: The Modern-Day Figures Who Have Reshaped and Affirmed the Founding Fathers’ Vision of America” by Juan Williams (Crown, $30.00) is a unique look at the lives and ideas of people the author calls “America’s modern-day founders.” The 453-page hardcover examines the lives and actions of leaders or cultural pioneers such as LBJ, Ronald Reagan, Jesse Jackson, Billy Graham, Eleanor Roosevelt, Harry Hay and others who helped created modern-day USA. A former White House correspondent for the Washington Post for many years, the author is currently a political analyst for Fox News.
Jamie H. Vaught, a longtime columnist in Kentucky, is the author of four books about UK basketball. He is the editor of KySportsStyle.com magazine and a professor at Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College in Middlesboro. You can follow him on Twitter @KySportsStyle or reach him via e-mail at KySportsStyle@gmail.com.