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Bob Dixon

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Middlesboro, KY 40965


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JAMIE'S BOOKSHELF: More Insightful Books For Fall Reading

Compiled by Jamie H. Vaught

--The Drama of Dictatorship: Martial Law and the Communist Parties of the Philippines by Joseph Scalice (Southeast Asia Program Publications, $41.95) uncovers the role played by rival Communist parties in the conflict that culminated in President Ferdinand Marcos' declaration of martial law in 1972. The 366-page paperback strongly believes that the martial law regime was not fundamentally the outcome of Marcos' personal quest to remain in power but rather a consensus of the country's ruling elite, confronted with mounting social unrest, that authoritarian forms of rule were necessary to preserve their property and privileges. It is an enjoyable book if you like history. --The Year That Broke Politics: Collusion and Chaos in the Presidential Election of 1968 by Luke A. Nichter (Yale University Press, $37.50) is an interesting story about a three-way race between incumbent vice president Hubert Humphrey (Democrat), former vice president Richard Nixon (Republican) and Alabama governor George Wallace (American Independent). At the time, the nation was reeling from the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert F. Kennedy, and was bitterly divided on the Vietnam War and domestic issues, including civil rights and rising crime. The author draws on previously unexamined archives and numerous interviews to come up with a fascinating 370-page hardcover. One of the more riveting tidbits include a story about a meeting between evangelist Billy Graham and President Lyndon B. Johnson after the president’s attempt to reenter the race was stymied by his own party, and Graham offered him a deal: Nixon, if elected, would continue Johnson’s Vietnam War policy and also not oppose his Great Society, if Johnson would soften his support for Humphrey. Johnson agreed.

--The New China Playbook: Beyond Socialism and Capitalism by Keyu Jin (Viking, $30) is a revealing account of a growing world power, its past and its potential future. The 360-page hardcover gives a comprehensive and objective reading of China. The author is a world-renowned economist who was born in China, educated in the U.S., and is now a tenured professor at the London School of Economics. She is fluent in both Eastern and Western cultures with a voice of the new generation of Chinese who represent a radical break from the past. If you want to know more about China, this is the book for you.

--The Butterfly Cage by Rachel Zemach (Unruly Voice, $18.99 for paperback) is a remarkable memoir written by a caring teacher who reveals some of the flaws in the field of the Deaf education at a public (hearing) school. While the book is funny, surprising, and disruptive, the reader will notice a Deaf teacher's frustrations and struggles with staff, administration, and aides who sabotage the teachers at every turn. The book "blows the lid off the California public school system's treatment of deaf students. You will be both enlightened and outraged," said John Geogegehan, a successful business executive who has written a book about his deafness. Zemach, the author who became Deaf at the age of 10, struggled with her childhood education, attending a series of schools that had one thing in common -- a lack of accessible education -- until she found herself at a school for the Deaf. After completing a degree in education, Zemach began teaching in the Deaf classroom at a local public school. Shocked at the deprivation she encountered there, she retired with a sense of urgency to write this book. She and her husband live in Northern California.

--The Right Call: What Sports Teach Us About Work and Life by Sally Jenkins (Gallery Books, $27.99) shares what it takes for ordinary people to achieve extraordinary results. The author uses dramatic sports anecdotes, featuring well-known personalities Bill Belichick, Pat Summitt, Peyton Manning, Diana Nyad, and Steve Kerr, among others, to illustrate seven inner qualities that allow ordinary people to overcome pressure, elevate their performance, and summon their best at the moments when they most need to. The author, who has written many books, has been a columnist and feature writer for The Washington Post for more than 20 years.

--In the Nation’s Service: The Life and Times of George P. Shultz by Philip Taubman (Stanford University Press, $35) is a definitive biography of the statesman who served as U.S. Secretary of Labor, Secretary of the Treasury, and Secretary of State. Based on exclusive access to Shultz’s personal papers, the 504-page hardcover provides a remarkable insider account of the behind-the-scenes struggles in unwinding the Cold War.

--Danger Zone: The Coming Conflict with China by Hal Brands and Michael Beckley (W.W. Norton & Company, $30) is another look at the U.S.-China rivalry. It has become conventional wisdom that America and China are running a “superpower marathon” that may last a century. The book, however, paints a different picture, offering a counterintuitive question: What if the sharpest phase of that competition is more like a decade-long sprint? The Chinese-American contest is driven by clashing geopolitical interests and a stark ideological dispute over whether authoritarianism or democracy will dominate the 21st century. But both history and China’s current path suggest that this rivalry will reach its moment of maximum danger in the 2020s. Over the long run, the Chinese challenge will most likely prove more manageable than many pessimists currently believe—but during the 2020s, the pace of the Chinese-American conflict will accelerate, and the prospect of war will be frighteningly real. The authors are college professors.

--Elon Musk by Walter Isaacson (Simon & Schuster, $35) in an intimate story of the most fascinating and controversial innovator of our era -- a rule-breaking visionary from South Africa who helped to lead the world into the era of electric vehicles, private space exploration, artificial intelligence, and Twitter (now called X). When he was a kid, Musk was regularly beaten by bullies and abused by his father. For two years, the author, who has written books about Steve Jobs, among others, shadowed Musk, attended his meetings, walked his factories with him, and spent hours interviewing him, his family, friends, coworkers, and adversaries. The result is the revealing inside story, filled with amazing tales of triumphs and turmoil, that addresses the question: are the demons that drive Musk also what it takes to drive innovation and progress?

--Why We Love Baseball: A History in 50 Moments by Joe Posnanski (Dutton, $29) is a one-of-a-kind love letter to the sport that has us thrilled, torn, inspired, and always wanting more. The 378-page hardcover is a countdown of 50 of the most memorable moments in baseball’s history. The author writes of major moments that created legends, and of forgotten moments almost lost to time. It’s Willie Mays’ catch, Babe Ruth’s called shot, and Kirk Gibson’s limping home run; the slickest steals; the biggest bombs; and the most triumphant no-hitters. But these are also moments raw with the humanity of the game, the unheralded heroes, the mesmerizing mistakes drenched in pine tar, and every story, from the immortal to the obscure, is told from a unique perspective. As you may recall, Posnanski’s previous book, The Baseball 100, portrayed the heroes and pioneers of the sport. The author has been named National Sportswriter of the Year by five different organizations.

--Feherty: The Remarkably Funny and Tragic Journey of Golf's David Feherty by John Feinstein (Hachette Books, $30) is a biography of one of the most beloved figures in golf. The author, who has spent four decades finding intriguing sports characters and narratives and turning them into classic books, chronicles the life and career of Feherty, currently a golf commentator. The two have known each other for years, beginning with Feinstein’s work on A Good Walk Spoiled, researched and written at a time when Feherty was an excellent player, who won five times in Europe and was on the ’91 Ryder Cup team, but also a functioning alcoholic. In retirement from the game as a pro golfer, Feherty has sobered up, while his golf world persona has only grown in stature.

--My Home Team: A Sportswriter's Life and the Redemptive Power of Small-Town Girls Basketball by Dave Kindred (Public Affairs, $30) is a moving and intimate story about a well-known sportswriter who writes about a high school girls basketball team in Illinois that changed his life. It is the same sportswriter who has covered dozens of Super Bowls and written about stars like Muhammad Ali, Tiger Woods, and Michael Jordan. But the Lady Potters of Morton, Illinois stands apart from the rest. Kindred, who once wrote columns for Louisville Courier-Journal, writes about his rise to professional success and the changes that brought him back to his hometown late in life. As he dealt with personal hardship, his urge to write sustained him.

--The Last Politician: Inside Joe Biden's White House and the Struggle for America's Future by Franklin Foer (Penguin Press, $30) is a fascinating book that reveals the definitive insider story of the first two years of the Biden presidency with exclusive access to Biden’s longtime team of advisers, and presents a gripping portrait of a president during this momentous time in our nation’s history. The 414-page hardcover is a work of political reporting — which includes thrilling insider reports of the botched withdrawal from Afghanistan and the White House’s swift response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine — that is destined to shape history’s view of a president in the eye of the storm.

--62: Aaron Judge, the New York Yankees, and the Pursuit of Greatness by Bryan Hoch (Atrica Books, $29.99) covers a remarkable journey of Judge’s run to shatter Maris’s 61-year-old home run record in 2022. He is the guy who has passed every Yankees legend's season HR mark -- Roger Maris' 61 homers (1961), Babe Ruth's 60 (1927), Mickey Mantle's 52 (1956). Judge, the hulking superman who carried an easy aw-shucks demeanor from small-town California to stardom in the Big Apple, had long established his place as one of baseball’s most intimidating power hitters. But even in a high-tech universe where computers measure each swing to the nth degree, Maris’ American League mark of 61 home runs seemed largely out of reach. It had been more than a decade since baseball wiped clean the stains of its performance-enhanced era, in which cartoonish sluggers Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and Barry Bonds made a mockery of the record book. Given a more level playing field against pitchers sporting hellacious arsenals unlike anything Babe Ruth or Maris could have imagined, only an exceptional talent could even consider making a run at 61 homers. Judge, who placed the bet of his life by turning down a $213.5 million extension on the eve of the regular season, promised to rise to the challenge. The author has covered New York baseball for the past two decades, working the New York Yankees clubhouse as an beat reporter since 2007.

Jamie Vaught, a longtime sports columnist in Kentucky, is the author of six books about UK basketball, including recently-published “Forever Crazy About the Cats: An Improbable Journey of a Kentucky Sportswriter Overcoming Adversity." He is the editor and founder of Magazine, and a professor at Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College in Middlesboro. You can follow him on X (formerly Twitter) @KySportsStyle or reach him via email at


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