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JAMIE'S BOOKSHELF: More Springtime Reading for Avid Book Lovers


This is the second of a two-part bookshelf column about recently-published books.


Compiled by Jamie H. Vaught


–“Lincoln’s Mentors: The Education of a Leader” by Michael J. Gerhardt (Custom House, $32.50) is a unique examination of how President Abraham Lincoln mastered the art of leadership. The 482-page hardcover looks primarily at five men, including Kentucky’s Henry Clay, who mentored or influenced an obscure lawyer with no executive experience to become one of our country’s greatest leaders.


--“The Hospital: Life, Death, and Dollars in a Small American Town” by Brian Alexander (St. Martin’s Press, $28.99) is a heart-wrenching story about one small hospital that exposes the magnitude of U.S.’s health care crisis. The 307-page hardcover takes the readers into the world of the medical industry in a way no book has done before. With Americans dying sooner and living in poorer health, the author argues that no plan will solve our health crisis until the deeper causes of this major problem are addressed.


–“The US Senate and the Commonwealth: Kentucky Lawmakers and the Evolution of Legislative Leadership” by Senator Mitch McConnell and Roy E. Brownell II (University Press of Kentucky, $40) is a historical account of the Senate with lively portraits of prominent Kentucky senators as well as personal reflections about legislative leadership by McConnell, now the Senate minority leader. The authors humanize the discussion by exploring the colorful and vivid lives of 15 Kentucky lawmakers, including Henry Clay, Alben Barkley, and John Sherman Cooper.


–“The Captain: A Memoir” by David Wright and Anthony DiComo (Dutton, $27) is an inspiring baseball book written by one of the most admired players in recent MLB history. A seven-time All-Star performer, Wright played his entire 14-year career with the New York Mets.


–“The Woman’s Study Bible” by editors Dorothy Kelly Patterson and Rhonda Harrington Kelley (Thomas Nelson, $49.99) is a full color, best-selling study Bible for women of all ages. The huge volume, which also includes detailed biographical portraits of over 100 biblical women, reveals the Word of God to women, inviting them to receive God’s truth for balance, hope. and transformation.


–“Cobra: A Life of Baseball and Brotherhood” by Dave Parker and Dave Jordan (University of Nebraska Press, $34.95) is a lengthy autobiography about the seven-time All-Star performer and a two-time batting champion who primarily played for the Pittsburgh Pirates and Cincinnati Reds. Parker recounts the triumphant victories and the heart-breaking defeats, both on and off the field. The 447-page hardcover is a fascinating story about a black athlete making his way through the game during a time of major social and cultural transformation.


-"Your Next Five Moves" by Patrick Bet-David with Greg Dinkin (Gallery Books, $28) is a best-selling guide for business folks that will help them to have the vision to look at the pieces in front of them and anticipate their next moves in achieving their bold or risky goals. The author, a successful CEO who is originally from Iran, is the founder of Valuetainment, the leading YouTube channel for entrepreneurs. The 295-page hardcover also will be available in paperback on June 1.


–“The Triumph of Nancy Reagan” by Karen Tumulty (Simon & Schuster, $32.50) is a definitive biography about the former First Lady, an influential figure who served in the Reagan White House during the 1980s. The 663-page hardcover explores the character of Mrs. Ronald Reagan and reveals new details surrounding the White House. A political columnist for The Washington Post, the author spent four years interviewing the people who knew the couple and draws on overlooked archives, letters, memoirs and White House records.


–“High Conflict: Why We Get Trapped and How We Get Out” by Amanda Ripley (Simon & Schuster, $28) is a mind-opening new approach to think about conflict that will transform into something good, something that made them better people. The author includes many stories or lessons that show how folks who strongly disagree can still join with one another and be respectful. The book could be used as a valuable guide since our divided country is so polarized. An investigative journalist, the author also spent a decade writing about human behavior for Time magazine.


–“I Came As A Shadow: An Autobiography” by John Thompson with Jesse Washington (Henry Holt and Company, $29.99) is a long-awaited autobiography about Georgetown University’s legend who became the first Black head basketball coach to win a national title. Filled with remarkable stories about race and basketball, this 338-page volume was completed before Hall of Fame coach Thompson passed away last year.


–“Kin: A Memoir” by Shawna Kay Rodenberg (Bloomsbury Publishing, $28) is an intimate portrait of an abused youngster who had a difficult Appalachian childhood, growing up for the most part in the hills of Eastern Kentucky. Along with her own memories and genealogical research, the author – who was awarded the Jean Ritchie Fellowship, the largest monetary award given to an Appalachian writer, in 2016 – tells a powerful story about her complicated family and generations of Appalachians who have endured, harmed, and held each other through countless lifetimes of personal and regional tragedy. The book is scheduled for release in early June.


–“On the House: A Washington Memoir” by John Boehner (St. Martin’s Press, $29.99) is a colorful story about his political career as long-time U.S. Congressman from Ohio (near Cincinnati), including a stint as the Speaker of the House during the early 2010s. In addition to his Washington life, Boehner offers his thoughts of leaders he’s met and what made them successes or failures, from Ford and Reagan to Obama, Trump and Biden. The former Speaker often thought of himself as a “regular guy with a big job.” He enjoys golf, mowing grass, Camels cigarettes and red wine. Personally, it is one of the most entertaining political books that I have read in a long time.


–“The Story of The Masters: Drama, Joy and Heartbreak at Golf’s Most Iconic Tournament” by David Barrett (Tatra Press, $30) is a historic story about golfers who have shined in the world’s most famous golf tournament, beginning with the early days when it was co-founded by legendary golfer Bobby Jones. The author, who is a veteran golf journalist, shares unknown and forgotten stories, drawing upon excellent reporting and other source material, and offers dramatic accounts of each year the Masters has been played. The 316-page hardcover is a nice addition to a sports fan’s library.


–“The Bona Fide Legend of Cool Papa Bell: Speed, Grace and the Negro Leagues” by Lonnie Wheeler (Abrams Press, $28) is the first full biography of Bell, a baseball superstar who played from 1922 to 1946. Bell’s speed was so extraordinary; as teammate Satchel Paige famously quipped, he was so fast he could flip in a light switch and be in bed before the room got dark. Bell was inducted into Baseball Hall of Fame in 1974. The author, who passed away in Cincinnati in 2020, wrote many baseball books, including “I Had a Hammer” (with Hank Aaron) and “Pitch by Pitch” (with Bob Gibson). He also wrote “Blue Yonder: Kentucky: The United State of Basketball," which was published in 1998.


–“Lady Bird Johnson: Hiding in Plain Sight” by Julia Sweig (Random House, $32) is a new biography about the wife of President Lyndon B. Johnson. Perhaps the most underestimated First Lady of the 20th century, Mrs. Johnson managed the White House during the years of national upheaval through the civil rights movement and the Vietnam War while projecting a sense of calm. An accomplished politician in her own right, she was often her husband’s secret weapon.

–“Lucky: How Joe Biden Barely Won the Presidency” by Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes (Crown, $30) is an inside thriller about the 2020 presidential election and Biden’s difficult ride to victory over President Trump. The bestselling authors use their unparalleled access to key figures inside the Democratic and Republican campaigns to unfold how Biden’s nail-biting run for the presidency vexed his own party as much as it did Trump.


Jamie H. Vaught, a longtime sports columnist in Kentucky, is the author of five books about UK basketball, including newly-released “Chasing the Cats: A Kentucky Basketball Journey.” He is the editor and founder 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 email at KySportsStyle@gmail.com.

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