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JAMIE'S BOOKSHELF: Popular Books For Your Summer Reading List

Compiled by Jamie H. Vaught

–“Leave Out The Tragic Parts: A Grandfather’s Search For A Boy Lost To Addiction” by Dave Kindred (PublicAffairs, $27) is a powerful story of addiction, grief and the stories we choose to tell our families and ourselves. The author’s grandson had left his home and family at the age of 18, choosing to wander across the country on freight train cars and live on the street before passing away. But Kindred – a well-known sportswriter who has written stories for the Louisville Courier-Journal and Washington Post, among others – still loved his grandson. It is a remarkable hardcover on how to love your family from a Hall of Fame journalist who has lived its lessons.

–“The Outlier: The Unfinished Presidency of Jimmy Carter” by Kai Bird (Crown, $38) delivers a clear-eyed evaluation of a leader whose legacy has been deeply misunderstood. This 773-page volume includes interviews with Carter, members of his administration and recently declassified documents. As president from 1977 to 1981, Carter was not merely an outsider; he was an outlier. He was the only president in a century to grow up in the heart of the Deep South, and his born-again Christianity made him the most openly-religious president in memory. This outlier brought to the White House a rare mix of humility, candor and self-confidence that neither Washington and U.S. was ready to embrace. The Pulitzer Prize-winning author is a historian and journalist who has written several biographies.

–“Jimmy Carter: Citizen of the South” by Kaye Lanning Minchew (University of Georgia Press, $34.95) is another extraordinary volume about our former president. The 282-page hardcover provides a fresh look at Carter and his legacy with oral histories and more than 215 photographs. Before he was elected president in 1976, Carter served as the governor of Georgia, and ran a peanut warehouse in his hometown of Plains, Ga., while he and his wife, Rosalynn, raised their family. He also served in the military for 11 years.

–“The Plague Year: America in the Time of Covid” by Lawrence Wright (Alfred A. Knopf, $28) slices through the dense fog of misinformation to tell a dramatic account of the COVID-19 pandemic. The author takes us through several events or places like CDC (where a first round of faulty test kits lost our country precious time), White House (where Deputy National Security Adviser’s early alarm about the virus was met with confounding and costly skepticism), and a COVID ward in a Charlottesville hospital (with an idealistic young woman doctor) to get a better understanding of what’s happening along with an eye-opening detour into the history of vaccination and of the modern anti-vaccination movement. A staff writer for The New Yorker, Wright has written numerous nonfiction books.

–“Revolutionary Leadership: Essential Lessons from the Men and Women of the American Revolution” by Pat Williams with Jim Denney (Revell, $17.99) tells compelling stories about the leaders of the American Revolutionary War, offering fresh insights into how great leaders are formed, refined, tested. and strengthened. The author, a motivational guru who has written numerous volumes, recently retired as senior vice president of the NBA’s Orlando Magic.

–“The President’s Daughter: A Thriller” by Bill Clinton and James Patterson (Little, Brown and Company & Alfred A. Knopf, $30) is an adventurous 600-page novel that only a former president could write with accurate details and only a famous author could dream up with never-ending drama and action. The authors’ first collaboration, “The President Is Missing,” was a New York Times bestseller in 2018.

–“Can’t Knock the Hustle: Inside the Season of Protest, Pandemic, and Progress with the Brooklyn Nets’ Superstars of Tomorrow” by Matt Sullivan (Dey Street Books, $27.99) is a behind-the-scenes account of the historic 2019-20 NBA season via the Nets and basketball’s renaissance as a cultural force beyond the game. The 336-page hardcover features hundreds of interviews with Julius Erving, Mark Cuban, Steve Kerr, Andrew Yang as well as several families of the victims of police violence, among others. The award-winning writer has been an editor at The New York Times, The Guardian, The Atlantic, Esquire, and Bleacher Report.

--"Battle for the Soul: Inside the Democrats' Campaigns to Defeat Trump" by Edward-Isaac Dovere (Viking, $30) offers an inside story of how the embattled Democratic party, seeking a direction for its future during the Trump years, successfully regained the White House. The 518-page hardcover provides a fly-on-the-wall account of the Democrats’ journey from the early days in the wilderness of the post-Obama era, though the jockeying of potential candidates, to the backroom battles and exhausting campaigns, to the unlikely triumph of the man few expected to win, and through the inauguration and insurrection at the Capitol. The author is an award-winning staff writer for The Atlantic.

–“Breaking the News: Exposing the Establishment Media’s Hidden Deals and Secret Corruption” by Alex Marlow (Threshold Editions, $28) reveals how the establishment press had destroyed its own credibility with a relentless stream of “fake news” designed to smear President Trump and his supporters while advancing a leftist agenda. The author has been editor-in-chief of Breitbart News Network since 2013.

–“1962: Baseball and America in the Time of JFK” by David Krell (University of Nebraska Press, $34.95) is a fascinating 335-page hardcover about the events and people that came together in 1962 to reshape baseball like never before. The season saw five no-hitters, a rare National League best-of-three playoff series between the San Francisco Giants and the Los Angeles Dodgers, a thrilling seven-game World Series where the Mickey Mantle-led Yankees won their 20th title, beating the Willie Mays-led Giants. Baseball also had expansion teams with the Houston Colt .45s and the New York Mets. Outside of baseball, the U.S. saw First Lady Jackie Kennedy in a television special, John Glenn became the first astronaut to orbit Earth, and JFK stared down Soviet Union during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

–“Stephen Hawking: A Memoir of Friendship and Physics” by Leonard Mlodinow (Vintage Books, $17) is an inspiring portrait about one of the most influential physicists of our time. The author, who spent nearly two decades as Hawking’s collaborator and friend, puts us in the room as Hawking indulges his passion for wine and curry, confides his feelings on love, death and disability, and wrestles with the deepest questions of philosophy and science.

–“The Heart of Business: Leadership Principles for the Next Era of Capitalism” by Hubert Joly with Caroline Lambert (Harvard Business Review Press, $30) reveals the philosophy behind the resurgence of Best Buy (where the author was a former CEO): pursue a noble purpose, put people at the center of the business, create an environment where every employee can blossom, and treat profit as an outcome, not the goal. The 266-page volume is a timely guide for leaders ready to abandon old paradigms and lead with purpose and humanity to create a sustainable future.

–“A President Like No Other: Donald J. Trump and the Restoring of America” by Conrad Black (Encounter Books, $18.99) is a 327-page paperback about Trump’s political rise. The author, a former newspaper publisher who has written biographies about presidents Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Richard Nixon, is a friend of Trump’s and provides the most intriguing and significant, but certainly not uncritical, analysis of Trump and his presidency.

–“The Secret Lives of Customers: A Detective Story About Solving the Mystery of Customer Behavior” by David Scott Duncan (PublicAffairs, $26) is an interesting story that delivers key insights for any businessperson asking the questions: who really are our customers, why do we lose them, how do we regain them? Despite tons of research data available, customers can be a mystery. The author’s fresh way of thinking about how to understand your customers’ secret lives provides an innovative path for solving whatever market mysteries you face.

–“The Essential Deming: Leadership Principles from the Father of Quality” by W. Edwards Deming and editor Joyce Nilsson Orsini, PhD (McGraw Hill, $37) has been around for several years, but it is still a very useful volume. Fully authorized by the Deming Estate and published in cooperation with the W. Edwards Deming Institute, it is the first book to integrate Deming's life's worth of thinking and writing into a single source, and the editor provides expert commentary throughout, delivering a practical guide for best practices you need to transform your organization.

–“King Richard: Nixon and Watergate – An American Tragedy” by Michael Dobbs (Alfred A. Knopf, $32.50) is a 400-page hardcover about the Watergate scandal in 1973 and ’74 which exposed the crimes of a malicious president. The impressive volume draws on thousands of hours of newly-released taped recordings to provide an intimate, absorbing narrative of the tension-paced 100 days when the scandal unraveled. The author was a longtime reporter for The Washington Post.

–“Exercise of Power: American Failures, Successes, and a New Path Forward in the Post-Cold War World” by Robert M. Gates (Vintage Books, $18) is an insightful, candid 453-page paperback for anyone interested in U.S. foreign policy. The author served as secretary of defense under presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. He was an officer in the U.S. Air Force and worked for the CIA before being appointed director of the agency.

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 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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