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Bob Dixon

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Middlesboro, KY 40965


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BOOKSHELF: More Exciting Nonfiction Books for Possible Summer Readings

Compiled by Jamie H. Vaught

This is the second of a two-part series about recently published nonfiction books that you may enjoy reading this summer.

--"Arnie: The Life of Arnold Palmer" by Tom Callahan (Harper, $27.99) is a joyful biography about one of the country's greatest golfers. Palmer was a likeable gentleman with movie star good looks who had great relationships with sports fans. When Palmer passed away in 2016, it was front-page news in the U.S. The author, who knew Palmer well for many years, has managed to put together a nice 335-page volume filled with entertaining stories.

--"Two Paths: America Divided or United" by John Kasich (Thomas Dunne Books, $25.99) offers author's reflections from the 2016 presidential campaign and shares with readers his concerns for America and his hopes for the future. Kasich, who is currently serving his second team as the governor of Ohio, was a nine-term member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He ran against eventual winner Donald Trump for Republican Party's nomination in 2016.

--"Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy" by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant (Alfred A. Knopf, $25.95) is a 227-page hardcover that combines Sandberg's personal insights with Grant's research on finding strength in the face of adversity. Sandberg, who is currently chief operating officer (COO) at Facebook, discusses the grief and isolation she felt in the wake of her husband's death. Two weeks after losing her husband, Sandberg was preparing for a father-child activity. “I want Dave,” she cried. Her friend replied, “Option A is not available,” and then promised to help her make the most of Option B. Co-author Grant is a psychologist who has been recognized as the top-rated teacher for five straight years at Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

--"Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama" by David J. Garrow (William Morrow, $45) is a massive hardcover about Obama's fascinating life before his election to the presidency in 2008. The Pulitzer-Prize winning author, who is a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh, spent nine years researching, interviewing more than 1,000 individuals and writing this 1,461-page epic of Obama's early years. This comprehensive biography revealed many unpublished or little-known details such as his former girlfriends, his early days at Harvard Law School, his absence mother, his drug usage while in high school and college, to name several.

According to the author, Obama read the first 10 chapters of the extraordinary book before it was published. The former president didn't agree with some of Garrow's numerous characterizations in their forceful "off-the-record" conversations, totaling eight hours.

Unless you want to understand the economic background of Chicago's struggling South Side during the 1980s, you can pretty much skip the first chapter. After skimming through the opening chapter, the book became much more interesting and enjoyable, and I began to learn more about Obama's past, including his father, who was a honor student and a womanizer. But I'm still not finished reading with several hundreds of pages left. However, if you are an Obama fan, you likely will enjoy this volume.

--"A Pope and A President: John Paul II, Ronald Reagan and the Extraordinary Untold Story of the 20th Century" by Paul Kengor (Intercollegiate Studies Institute, $29.95) reveals never-before-seen information about Russia's role in the shooting of Pope John Paul II in 1981. A product of two decades of research, the 638-page hardcover reveals for first time what Moscow knew, what Reagan knew, and what John Paul II knew. The book also discussed an inside story on the June 1982 meeting where Reagan and the pope confided their conviction that God had spared their lives for the purpose of stopping communism, among several issues.

--"Ballplayer" by Chipper Jones with Carroll Rogers Walton (Dutton, $27.00) takes readers into the clubhouse of the Atlanta Braves during the 1990s and 2000s when Jones starred for the Braves. Reading this 369-page hardcover is like sitting next to Chipper in the dugout when he discusses relationships with baseballers like Bobby Cox, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, Barry Bonds, among several topics. An eight-time All-Star Game performer, Jones captured the National League's MVP honors in 1999.

--"An American Sickness: How Healthcare Became Big Business and How You Can Take It Back" by Elisabeth Rosenthal (Penguin Press, $28) is a revealing look at the dangerous, expensive and dysfunctional U.S. healthcare system and the author tells us exactly what we can do to solve its problems. Before becoming the editor-in-chief of Kaiser Health News (an independent journalism newsroom focusing on health and health policy), Rosenthal was a longtime writer for The New York Times and once served as an ER physician before quitting her medical practice. Wrote Kirkus Reviews, the 406-page hardcover is "a scathing denouncement....A blast across the bow of the entire health care industry."

--"The True Jesus: Uncovering the Divinity of Christ in the Gospels" by David Limbaugh (Regnery, $28.99) in a 454-page hardcover that combines the four Gospel stories -- books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John -- into an organized account about the life of Jesus Christ. Along the way, the author shares his insights on Jesus' words and deeds. Limbaugh has written several bestsellers, including The Emmaus Code, Jesus on Trial, and Crimes Against Liberty.

--"Who Thought This Was a Good Idea? And Other Questions You Should Have Answers to When You Work in the White House" by Alyssa Mastromonaco with Lauren Oyler (Twelve, $27) is a fascinating story about her days when the author worked for President Obama at the White House. The hardcover contains many tidbits, some of them funny, such as having a bad case of IBS while visiting the Vatican, how she was hired in college as an intern for Bernie Sanders after watching him speak on campus, meeting the Queen of England in jeans, among other things. The author served as deputy chief of staff for operations at the White House.

--"Women Who Work: Rewriting the Rules for Success" by Ivanka Trump (Portfolio, $26.00) shares her insights about how to have a successful career while making time for your family, your passions and yourself. The author's goal is to inspire women to redefine success on their own terms. The daughter of current U.S. president and a White House advisor, Ivanka writes how women are good for business and good at business through research, stories of women leading the way and tactics for the everyday reader in corporate and entrepreneurial settings.

Jamie H. Vaught, a longtime columnist in Kentucky, is the author of four books about UK basketball. He is the editor of 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

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