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Bob Dixon

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Middlesboro, KY 40965


Go Big Blue!

JAMIE'S BOOKSHELF: Nonfiction Volumes Keeping You Entertained

Updated: Sep 13, 2022

Compiled by Jamie H. Vaught

--The First Populist: The Defiant Life of Andrew Jackson by David S. Brown (Scribner, $30) presents a full portrait of President Jackson that offers a new perspective on this charismatic figure in the context of American populism. The hardcover traces Jackson's unusual life and legacy, and sheds new light on his place in our nation's history, focusing on his role as a popular leader. The author, who has written several books, teaches history at Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania.

--The Hills Remember: The Complete Short Stories of James Still by editor Ted Olson (University Press of Kentucky, $19.95) is a new reprint of the 2012 volume that honors the legendary Kentucky author by collecting all of Still's short stories, including those from On Troublesome Creek (1941), Pattern of a Man and Other Stories (1976), and The Run for the Elbertas (1980), as well as 12 prose pieces originally published as short stories and later incorporated into River of Earth. Also included are several lesser-known stories and ten that were previously unpublished. Still, who died in 2001, remains one of the most beloved and important writers of Appalachian literature. Best known for his acclaimed novel River of Earth (1940), the Alabama native and adopted Kentuckian left an enduring legacy of novels, stories, and poems during his nearly 70-year career. Olson, who has written several books, is a professor of Appalachian studies at East Tennessee State University.

--Leadership: Six Studies in World Strategy by Henry Kissinger (Penguin Press, $36) explores the lives of six extraordinary leaders, including Richard Nixon and Margaret Thatcher, through the distinctive strategies of statecraft, which the author believes they embodied. Kissinger served as National Security Advisor and then Secretary of State under Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, and has advised many other American presidents on foreign policy.

--Pandemic, Inc.: Chasing the Capitalists and Thieves Who Got Rich While We Got Sick by J. David McSwane (Atria/One Signal Publishers, $28) is an explosive look inside the rush to profit from the COVID-19 pandemic. The award-winning investigative reporter takes us behind the scenes to reveal how traders, contractors, and healthcare companies used one of the darkest moments in U.S. history to fill their pockets. McSwane writes for ProPublica’s DC office after stints at The Dallas Morning News and the Austin American-Statesman where he was an investigative reporter.

--Watergate: A New History by Garrett M. Graff (Avid Reader Press/Simon & Schuster, $35) brings the readers into the backrooms of Washington, chaotic daily newsrooms, crowded Senate hearings, and even the Oval Office itself during one of the darkest chapters in U.S. history. While there have been many books written about the Watergate scandal, which led to the downfall of President Richard Nixon, the author used newly public documents, transcripts and revelations to come up with the first comprehensive, single-volume account in many years. A distinguished journalist and bestselling historian, the author has spent more than a dozen years covering politics, technology, and national security. Graff currently serves as the director of cyber initiatives for The Aspen Institute and is a contributor to Wired, CNN, and Politico.

--The Return: Trump's Big 2024 Comeback by Dick Morris (Humanix Books, $27.99) provides a political road map for taking back the White House and the nation. If you're a fan of former President Trump, you'll enjoy this new hardcover. The author is a well-known political advisor who once worked with Bill Clinton's 1996 presidential campaign.

--The Secret Syllabus: A Guide to the Unwritten Rules of College Success by Jay Phelan and Terry Burnham (Princeton University Press, $18.95) provides students with the tools they need to succeed, revealing the unwritten rules and cultural norms and expectations not included in the official curriculum. The authors share the essential lessons they have learned from struggling, unfocused students as well as award-winning college instructors and researchers.

--Thank you for Your Servitude: Donald Trump's Washington and the Price of Submission by Mark Leibovich (Penguin Press, $29) is an eyewitness account of how the GOP collaborated with Donald Trump to transform Washington’s “swamp” into a gold-plated hot tub—and a onetime party of rugged individualists into a sycophantic personality cult. The author recently joined The Atlantic, after a 10-year stint as chief national correspondent for The New York Times Magazine.

--The Leadership Secrets of Nick Saban: How Alabama's Coach Became The Greatest Ever by John Talty (Matt Holt Books, $25) highlights the keys to Saban's winning strategy and offers readers a blueprint for paving their own paths to success using the coach’s leadership lessons. The 245-page hardcover covers Saban’s journey to college football’s mountaintop and reveals some of the magic behind what keeps him atop it through original interviews and never-before-heard anecdotes. The author is the senior sports editor and SEC Insider for Alabama Media Group.

--My Old Kentucky Home: The Astonishing Life and Reckoning of An Iconic American Song by Emily Bingham (Alfred A. Knopf, $30) explores the long, strange journey of what has come to be seen by some as an American anthem, an integral part of our folklore, culture, customs, foundation, a living symbol of a “happy past.” But “My Old Kentucky Home” was never just a song. It was always a song about slavery with the real Kentucky home inhabited by the enslaved and shot through with violence, despair, and degradation. The author lives in Louisville, Ky.

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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