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JAMIE'S BOOKSHELF: Nonfiction Books To Keep You Entertained

Updated: May 11, 2019

UPDATED April 10, 2019

Compiled by Jamie Vaught

Here are some recently-published nonfiction books that you may want to consider to keep you entertained this spring.

--"Adolph Rupp and the Rise of Kentucky Basketball" by James Duane Bolin (University Press of Kentucky, $40) is the first full-length, critical biography of "The Baron of the Bluegrass." The 408-page hardcover is based on over 100 interviews as well as newspaper accounts, court transcripts and other archival materials. If you're a Kentucky Wildcat fan, it's a remarkable volume that you don't want to miss if you'd like to know more about the legendary Rupp and UK hoops history. The book is expected to be released in late February. The author, who has written several books, is professor emeritus of history at Murray State University.

--“Camelot’s End: Kennedy vs. Carter and the Fight that Broke the Democratic Party” by Jon Ward (Twelve, $28) is a well-written hardcover of Sen.Ted Kennedy’s 1980 presidential campaign against incumbent President Jimmy Carter. It is a comprehensive study of a dark chapter in U.S. political history with the tales of two extraordinary men. The author is a senior political correspondent for Yahoo News.

--"The Size of Everything: A Memoir" by Erin Cole and Jenna McCarthy (Bella Luna Press, $17.95) is an inspiring story about a survivor who grew up on a steady diet of dysfunction, death, alcoholism and abuse before becoming a wildly successful designer and businesswoman. Cole’s childhood was unbelievably difficult as her divorced, working-class parents were financially strapped and distracted. She wore raggedy hand-me-downs and never saw a doctor. Supervision and emotional support were nonexistent. Food was scarce or inedible. Holes in the soles of her shoes, dismal birthdays and an empty belly were common. Despite her horrible childhood, Cole never lost her faith and her sense of humor as her life improved down the road.

“One of the most beautiful and mind-boggling things about Erin is her complete lack of selfpity,” said co-author Jenna McCarthy. “Never once does she portray herself as a victim. Somehow, she knew from an early age that she was destined to rise above her grim beginnings, and she never let anything steer her from that path. She is a remarkable and inspiring woman and I am honored to call her a dear friend.”

--“A Fine Team Man: Jackie Robinson and the Lives He Touched” by Joe Cox (Globe Pequot Press/Lyons Press, $27.95) is a remarkable baseball story which features not only Robinson, but nine other figures whose lives were altered by the “great experiment,” as the integration of baseball was called then. As you may know, Robinson was the first African-American to play major league baseball. The profiles include Robinson’s wife Rachel, baseball commissioner Happy Chandler, the Brooklyn Dodgers’ team captain Pee Wee Reese, and announcer Red Barber, among others. Cox, a Kentucky native who has written several sports books, has covered UK football for Magazine and other outlets.

--“Imagine It Forward: Courage, Creativity, and the Power of Change” by Beth Comstock with Tahl Raz (Currency, $30) is a personal and inspiring volume about how to deal with changes we face every day. One of the most successful women in business, Comstock discusses her personal experience in leading change with lessons on overcoming the frustrating roadblocks. The author was the former Vice Chair and head of marketing and innovation at GE. The book was chosen a 2018 Best Business Book Pick by Fast Company and Wired UK.

--“The Chicken Runs at Midnight” by Tom Friend (Zondervan, $24.99) is a heartwarming story about a major league baseball coach whose teenage daughter was dying and her words remarkably changed his heart for good. Through the eyes of coach Rich Donnelly, the hardcover weaves baseball history with personal memoir.

--"Mar-A-Lago: Inside the Gates of Power at Donald Trump's Presidential Power" by Laurence Leamer (Flatiron Books, $27.99) is a 290-page hardcover about the president and the exclusive Palm Beach, Fla., community where he has lived for 25 years. The author gives the readers access to Trump's presidential palace and provides insight for understanding Trump's inner character.


--“Birds of Pray: The Story of the Philadelphia Eagles’ Faith, Brotherhood, and Super Bowl Victory” by Rob Maaddi (Zondervan, $24.99) explores the Christian faith shared by many of the 2017 team’s players with inside stories behind the Eagles’ surprising capture of the Super Bowl championship.

--“Team of Vipers: My 500 extraordinary Days in the Trump White House” by Cliff Sims (Thomas Dunne Books, $29.99) reveals the incredible story about the West Wing through the eyes of former Special Assistant to the President. Sims had unprecedented access to the President and attended private meetings with leading congressional officials, world leaders and top White House advisors.

--“Merchants of Truth” by Jill Abramson (Simon & Schuster, $30) is a gripping story about the rapidly-changing news media, following four companies -- The New York Times, The Washington Post, BuzzFeed and VICE Media -- over a decade of uproar and radical adjustment. There is a controversy about the 535-page volume due to the issue of plagiarism but the author has acknowledged that some parts of the book weren't credited properly. Abramson, a senior lecturer at Harvard University, was the first woman to serve as Washington bureau chief, managing editor and executive editor for the New York Times.

--"Let Me Finish: Trump, the Kushners, Bannon, New Jersey, and the Power of In-Your-Face Politics" by Chris Christie (Hachette, $28) is a revealing 420-page memoir about the outspoken former governor of New Jersey and his political rise. A friend of President Trump for 15 years, Christie is a former presidential candidate who became the first major official to endorse Trump. He discusses Trump and the controversial issues like Bridgegate and the Kushner saga.

--"Here's the Pitch: The Amazing, True, New, and Improved Story of Baseball and Advertising" by Roberta J. Newman (University of Nebraska Press, $34.95) examines a remarkable connection between baseball and advertising as both constructors and reflectors of culture. The author writes about the development in both industries from the birth of the partnership with advertising spreading the gospel of baseball at the same time as pro baseball helping to develop a body of consumers ready to absorb advertising messages. The 319-page hardcover looks at baseball stars from Ty Cobb to Babe Ruth in the 1920s and '30s to the present, and shows what qualities made them the perfect pitchmen for new products at key moments.

--"Commander in Cheat: How Golf Explains Trump" by Rick Reilly (Hachette Books, $28) is a look at Donald Trump's appalling behavior in the world of golf. President Trump, who loves playing golf, has claimed he's a 3 handicap, almost never loses, and has won 18 club championships. But the author says nearly all of them are not true. Based on sportswriter Reilly’s own experiences with Trump as well as interviews with over 100 golf pros, amateurs, developers, and caddies, the readers will learn how Trump cheats and sometimes he has help from his caddies and Secret Service agents. For Trump, it’s always about winning. Reilly is a member of the National Sportswriters and Sportscasters Hall of Fame.

--"Finding My Voice: My Journey to the West Wing and the Path Forward" by Valerie Jarrett (Viking, $30) is an intimate biography that tells the stories of her extraordinary journey from her shy childhood in Iran to the White House and beyond. Jarrett, who was the longest-serving senior advisor to President Obama, also shares stories about her personal life as a single, working mother after divorce as well as the most stirring moments of the Obama presidency. A former deputy chief of staff for Chicago mayor Richard M. Daley, she has a law degree from the University of Michigan Law School.

--"In the Closet of the Vatican: Power, Homosexuality, Hypocrisy" by Frederic Martel (Bloomsbury Continum, $30) is a startling and revealing story of corruption and hypocrisy at the heart of the Vatican. The new 555-page hardcover is published in 20 countries and in eight languages, exposing a disturbing account of the Vatican and the Roman Catholic Church today. The author, who has a PhD, is a French writer and researcher.

--"The Case for Trump" by Victor Davis Hanson (Basic Books, $30) discusses how a celebrity businessman with no political or military experience defeated 16 well-qualified Republican rivals, a Democrat with a quarter-billion-dollar war chest, and a hostile media and Washington establishment to become president of the United States. The author, an award-winning historian, explains our country needs the outsider Donald Trump to do what normal politicians would not and could not do.

--"Mostly Sunny: How I Learned to Keep Smiling Through the Rainiest Days" by Janice Dean (Harper, $26.99) is a 245-page hardcover about a well-known meteorologist who shares her personal and professional setbacks while maintaining her infectious joy and optimism. Dean works for Fox News.

--"Working: Researching, Interviewing, Writing" by Robert A. Caro (Knopf, $25) is a candid and revealing recollections about his experiences as a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning author. The 207-page hardcover also includes the moments at which the author came to understand that he wanted to write not just about the men who wielded power but about the people and the politics that were shaped by that power. Caro, who is working on his fifth and final volume of "The Years of Lyndon B. Johnson," received the National Humanities Medal from President Obama in 2010.

--"Truth in Our Times: Inside the Fight for Press Freedom in the Age of Alternative Facts" by David E. McCraw (All Points Books, $28.99) is a 288-page volume about a leading newsroom attorney and his experiences during the most stormy era for journalism in generations. As Deputy General Counsel, the author has worked for The New York Times since 2002, leading the newspaper's fight for freedom of information, defending it against libel suits and providing legal advice to the reporters breaking the biggest stories of the year. He is an adjunct professor at the NYU School of Law and a visiting lecturer at Harvard Law School.

Jamie H. Vaught, a longtime columnist in Kentucky, is the author of four books about UK basketball. 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 e-mail at

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