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Bob Dixon

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Middlesboro, KY 40965


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JAMIE'S BOOKSHELF: New Kentucky-Related Books Highlight Holiday Reading List

Compiled by Jamie H. Vaught

Are you ready for Christmas shopping? Here's a list of possible gift ideas for nonfiction book lovers, including different Bibles.

--"Made From Scratch: The Legendary Success Story of Texas Roadhouse" by Kent Taylor (Simon & Schuster, $27) is a personal memoir written by a Louisville businessman who recounts how he built the restaurant chain to become an overnight success after a rough start. Rather than scrutinizing figures like labor-cost percentages or schedule models, Taylor focused on people by creating a fulfilling workplace for employees and a warm, informal environment to keep customers coming back. Taylor, who attended and graduated from the University of North Carolina on a track scholarship, was the founder, CEO, and chairman of the board of Texas Roadhouse before he passed away last March. All profits from this 310-page hardcover will be donated to the Texas Roadhouse employee assistance fund, called Andy's Outreach.

--"The Great Dissenter: The Story of John Marshall Harlan, America's Judicial Hero" by Peter S. Canellos (Simon & Schuster, $32.50) is a well-written biography about an attorney and politician from Kentucky who served on the U.S. Supreme Court after the Civil War. It was Harlan's words that helped end segregation, and gave us our civil rights and our modern economic freedom. The author is an award-winning writer who has worked as an editor at The Boston Globe and Politico.

--"The Harlan Renaissance: Stories of Black Life in Appalachian Coal Towns" by William Turner (West Virginia University Press, $26.99 paperback) reconstructs Black life in the company towns in and around Harlan County during coal’s final postwar boom years, which built toward an enduring bust as the children of Black miners, like the author, left the region in search of better opportunities. Dr. Turner invites readers into what might be an unfamiliar Appalachia: one studded by large and vibrant Black communities in eastern Kentucky, where families took the pulse of the nation through magazines like Jet and Ebony and through the news that traveled within Black churches, schools, and restaurants. Born in 1946 and raised in a coal mining family in Lynch in Harlan County, Dr. Turner received his sociology degree from UK and eventually served as Vice President for Diversity at UK and Interim President of Kentucky State University. He retired as Distinguished Professor of Appalachian Studies and Regional Ambassador at Berea College. He is now a sociologist in the Houston, Texas, area and received a lifetime of service award from the Appalachian Studies Association in 2009, which joined other career highlights that include induction into the Kentucky Civil Rights Hall of Fame.

--Ages of American Capitalism: A History of the United States" by Jonathan Levy (Random House, $40) is a fascinating volume about how capitalism in America has evolved over the years and how the nation's economic evolution is inseparable from the nature of American life itself. The 911-page hardcover covers the colonial era through the outbreak of the Civil War (Age of Commerce), the lasting impact of the industriai revolution (Age of Capital), the Great Depression (Age of Control when the government took on a more active role in the economy), and the deregulation and the growth of the finance industry which led to the crash of 2008 (Age of Chaos). The author is a professor at the University of Chicago. His first book, Freaks of Fortune: The Emerging World of Capitalism and Risk in America, was published nearly 10 years ago.

--"Eleanor" by David Michaelis (Simon & Schuster, $20) is now available in paperback. It is an intimate biography about our legendary First Lady, Mrs. Franklin Roosevelt, that reads like a novel. When Mrs. Roosevelt discovered her husband's betrayal with her younger, prettier social secretary, Lucy Mercer, she offered a divorce and vowed to face herself honestly. She eventually became both more vulnerable and more aggressive, more psychologically aware and sexually adaptable than we knew. She came to accept FDR’s bond with his executive assistant, Missy LeHand, and she allowed her kids to live their own lives, as she never could; and she explored her sexual attraction to women and younger men. Her husband, by the way, was her fifth cousin.

--"Rigged: How the Media, Big Tech, and the Democrats Seized Our Elections" by Mollie Hemingway (Regnery, $29.99) is a definitive account of the 2020 presidential election. Based on author's exclusive interviews with campaign officials, reporters, Supreme Court justices, and President Trump himself, the hardcover exposes the alleged fraud and cynicism behind the Democrats' victory.

--"American Happiness and Discontents: The Unruly Torrent, 2008-2020" by George F. Will (Hachette Books, $32) is a powerful examination of remarkably unsettling 13 years of cultural change and unrest in our nation's history. A Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for the Washington Post, the author offers his articulate perspectives on various issues of the American experience through his collection of reflections or columns. One of the country's leading columnists and the author of 15 previous books, Will has been called "perhaps the most powerful journalist in American" by the Wall Street Journal.

--"Nudge: The Final Edition" by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein (Penguin Books, $18) is a new 366-page paperback that is actually a revision of the original book that was published more than 10 years ago, containing updates and observations that show how folks can be nudged toward decisions that will improve their lives. With research exploding in many academic disciplines, the authors rewrote the volume after experiencing changes in and out of government in recent years, including medical care and personal finance. Thaler was the winner of the 2017 Nobel Prize in Economics, while Sunstein captured the Holberg Prize.

--“There Is Nothing for You Here: Finding Opportunity in the Twenty-First Century” by Fiona Hill (Mariner Books, $30) is powerful memoir about her remarkable career as a foreign policy expert. A key Trump Impeachment witness, the author reveals how declining opportunity has set our country on the grim path of modern Russia and also draws on her personal journey out of poverty. The daughter of a coal miner who grew up in northern England, Hill studied in Moscow and at Harvard, became an American citizen, and served three U.S. Presidents. From 2017 to 2019, she served as deputy assistant to President Trump and senior director for European and Russian affairs on the National Security Council.

--"System Error: Where Big Tech Went Wrong And How We Can Reboot" by Rob Reich, Mehran Sahami, and Jeremy M. Weinstein (Harper, $27.99) is a 320-page volume by three Stanford University professors that reveals how big tech's obsession with optimization and efficiency has sacrificed fundamental human values. They outline the steps we can take to change course, renew our democracy, and save ourselves, explaining that we can control technology instead of letting it control us. Armed with an understanding of how technologists think and exercise their power, the authors -- a philosopher working at the intersection of tech and ethics, a political scientist who served under President Obama, and the director of the undergraduate Computer Science program at Stanford (also an early Google engineer) -- reveal how we can hold that power to account.

--"Landslide: The Final Days of the Trump Presidency" by Michael Wolff (Henry Holt and Company, $29.99) is an explosive look at President Trump and the White House. The 313-page volume is loaded with fascinating stories and numerous tidbits. For example, Trump made RNC chairperson Ronna Romney McDaniel (Mitt Romney's niece) stop using Romney in her name. The author also has written two other books about the Trump White House, both bestsellers.

--"Forward: Notes on the Future of Our Democracy" by Andrew Yang (Crown, $28) argues the American democracy is failing and we need to come up with bold new ideas to rewire it for 21st century problems. Inspired by his experience running for political office and as an entrepreneur, and by ideas drawn from leading thinkers, the author offers a series of solutions by transforming our outmoded political and economic systems. Yang was a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate and a 2021 candidate for mayor of New York City. Named by President Obama as a Presidential Ambassador of Global Entrepreneurship, he is the founder of Humanity Forward and Venture for America.

--"The Baseball 100" by Joe Posnanski (Avid Reader Press, $40) is a one-of-a-kind work penned by award-winning sportswriter and lifelong student of the game, telling the story through the remarkable lives of baseball's greatest players. The legendary players come alive in this 871-page hardcover, which aren't merely rankings but vibrant profiles of the game's all-time greats. The author -- chapter by chapter -- invites the readers to examine rich baseball history in an impressive single volume with brand-new eyes and learn stories that have long gone unheard.

--"Appalachian Reckoning: A Region Responds to Hillbilly Elegy” by editors Anthony Harkins and Meredith McCarroll (West Virginia University Press, $28.99) is a collection of essays and creative work that offers a deeper understanding about the Appalachian culture and people. Many have argued that J.D. Vance's best-selling Hillbilly Elegy didn't provide an accurate picture of the Appalachia. The contributors to this award-winning 2019 paperback focuses on the region, reclaiming some of the talk about Appalachia, and offering ideas through the voices of many who have deep experiences in the area.

--"The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible, Second Edition, NIV" by general editor Charles Stanley (Thomas Nelson) is an updated and impressive version that will help the readers experience life-changing relationship with Jesus Christ and the Good News about God’s mighty kindness and love. It features 100 specially designed maps and charts that bring biblical places and themes to life, book introductions that alert readers to important principles they'll encounter as they read, and a listing of over 300 verses revealing God's promises that encourage, strengthen, and bring hope. Dr. Charles Stanley is the founder of In Touch Ministries and pastor emeritus of First Baptist Church of Atlanta, Georgia, where he served more than 50 years. He is a New York Times bestselling author of more than 70 books.

--"NIV Study Bible, Fully Revised Edition (Hardcover, Red Letter & Comfort Print)" by generai editor Kenneth L. Barker (Zondervan, $54.99) features a readable guide with impressive four-color maps, charts, photos and illustrations to go along with dozens of new articles as well as book introductions. The updated 2,480-page volume (9-point print size) answers your pressing questions with just the right amount of information, placed in just the right location, increasing your understanding and application of God's word. According to the publisher, the bestselling NIV Study Bible has sold over 9 million copies.

--"In Trump's Shadow: The Battle for 2024 and the Future of the GOP" by David M. Drucker (Twelve, $29) tells the story of a GOP under — and after — the 45th president, and all of those jousting for influence over the party’s direction in the wake of Donald Trump. Based on extensive reporting, the 273-page hardcover features profiles of everyone from Mike Pence, Mike Pompeo, and Nikki Haley to Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and those in the Trump family about what comes next in the Republican Party. A former reporter for Washington, D.C.-based Roll Call, the author, who graduated from UCLA with a history degree, is a senior correspondent for the Washington Examiner where he focuses on Congress, campaigns and national political trends.

--“Red Roulette: An Insider’s Story of Wealth, Power, Corruption, and Vengeance in Today’s China” by Desmond Shum (Scribner, $30) is a fascinating memoir that brings the readers behind the red curtain to experience the uncertainty facing Chinese businessmen as President Xi Jimping continues to ramp up his campaign against China’s entrepreneurial class. The author, a wealthy businessman who was born in Shanghai and raised in Hong Kong, developed the largest air cargo logistics facility in China. In 2017, his wife was scooped off the streets of Beijing, and imprisoned by the Chinese government. She hasn’t been heard from since. Her husband – the author – had already left the mainland after the execution of a business associate for supposed corruption.

--"HelpFinder Bible" (Tyndale House Publishers) is an easy-to-understand text of the New Living Translation Bible that speaks directly and clearly to you along with helpful notes and book introductions. The application notes connect the Bible’s truths to today’s issues, and the extensive topical index points readers to verses where answers can be discovered, issues resolved, and freedom found. Topics such as experiencing pain, facing anxiety, and finding your purpose appear alongside the Scripture text. This remarkable 1,568-page Bible allows God's Word to meet you at your point of need.

--"The Black President: Hope and Fury in the Age of Obama" by Claude A. Clegg III (John Hopkins University Press, $34.95) is a balanced, nonpartisan portrait of President Obama's successes and failures in the White House. The 656-page hardcover is a required reading not only for historians, political junkies, and Obama fans but also for anyone seeking to understand our country's struggles with inequality, prejudice, and fear. The author -- who draws on an expansive archive of materials, including government records and reports, interviews, speeches, memoirs, and insider accounts for this new volume -- is a professor of history and African American studies at the University of Carolina in Chapel Hill.

--The Books of the Bible: New Testament, NIV" (Zondervan, $14.99) begins with the story of Jesus, his church, and his return. The 482-page hardcover uses Scripture from the accurate, readable and clear New International Version in a fresh yet ancient presentation. It includes book introductions to prepare you for a more in-depth reading experience, revealing the story behind the story and unlocking the content of the book you're about to read. New Testament is the fourth part (of four parts) of The Books of the Bible series, which is a part of the church wide-campaign, The Community Bible Experience.

--“Robert E. Lee: A Life” by Allen C. Guelzo (Knopf, $35) is a new intimate biography about the Confederate general, who is one of the most confounding figures in U.S. history. The 591-page hardcover follows Lee from his refined upbringing in Virginia high society, to his long career in the U.S. Army, his agonized decision to side with Virginia when it seceded from the Union and his leadership during the Civil War. An award-winning historian, the author has written several books about the Civil War and early 19th century American history, and is Senior Research Scholar at the Council of Humanities at Princeton University.

--“The Unorthodox Presidency of Donald J. Trump” by editors Paul E. Rutledge and Chapman Rackaway (University Press of Kansas, $34.95) explores the numerous ways in which Trump represents a nontraditional version of American politics. The controversial Trump White House denotes the most significant challenge in U.S. history to whether the constitutional design and boundaries on the office of the presidency can survive the test of an occupant who doesn’t follow the norms of nearly everything in its past.

--“Finding Freedom: Harry and Meghan” by Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand (Dey Street Books, $16.99) is now available in paperback. The updated volume is filled with interesting and unknown stories about the former Royal couple, including their courtship, wedding, Archie’s milestones and many unforgettable moments. The authors are members of the select group of reporters that cover the British Royal Family and their engagements, and they have observed the young couple’s lives as few outsiders can.

--"A Season in the Sun: The Inside Story of Bruce Arians, Tom Brady, and the Making of a Champion" by Lars Anderson (William Morrow, $28.99) is a behind-the-scenes account of how Coach Arians, Brady, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers came together to deliver one of the most improbable Super Bowl victories in NFL history. The 267-page hardcover includes details on how the head coach landed the legendary QB and convinced the other players like Rob Gronkowski, Leonard Fournette and Antonio Brown to join him in Tampa. The author, who has written for Sports Illustrated for 20 years, was granted extraordinary access to the inner workings of the Bucs’ organization for the book. From the practice facility to the team plane, from the garage where Brady treats his footballs to the huddle on gameday, Anderson captures the rhythms of perhaps the strangest NFL season ever, turned upside down by the COVID-19 pandemic.

--“The Bidens: Inside the First Family’s Fifty-Year Rise to Power” by Ben Schreckinger (Twelve, $30) explores the life of President Joe Biden as told through his extended family. The new hardcover reveals the good and bad about the tight-knit Biden family, including the new evidence that sheds light on the authenticity of Hunter Biden’s alleged computer files as well as his surprisingly close friendship with his Fox News antagonist Tucker Carlson. The author is a national political correspondent at Politico.

Jamie H. Vaught, a longtime sports columnist in Kentucky, is the author of five books about UK basketball, including recently-published “Chasing the Cats: A Kentucky Basketball Journey.” 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 Twitter @KySportsStyle or reach him via email at


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