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JAMIE'S BOOKSHELF: Several New Nonfiction Books Are Worth Reading

Updated September 30, 2019

Compiled by Jamie H. Vaught

--"Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed" by Lori Gottlieb (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $28) is an unusual look about topics that make people think differently about themselves and the world around them. In other words, the 415-page volume is basically about universal human condition. With startling wisdom and humor, the author takes the readers into both her therapy office where she sees patients and into her own therapist's office where she lands after a crisis. The memoir reportedly is in development for a TV series with Eva Longoria at ABC.

--"America's Reluctant Prince: The Life of John F. Kennedy Jr." by Steven M. Gillon (Dutton, $29) is a new 455-page biography about former President's son. The book looks at the flattering and less-flattering sides of JFK Jr.'s life, including his young behavorial problems, his stress under pressure at George magazine, and his marriage. The author was the racquetball-playing professor at Brown where he gave a lecture criticizing JFK's policies and the younger Kennedy was sitting in the front row. As it turned out, they eventually became friends. The new volume is a mix of historical analysis and personal reflection written by a confidant of Kennedy's college years and adulthood. Gillon is the scholar-in-residence at The History Channel and professor of history at the University of Oklahoma.

--"The Chief : The Life and Turbulent Times of Chief Justice John Roberts" by Joan Biskupic (Basic Books, $32) is a compelling biography about the chief justice who was named to the Supreme Court in 2005. Based on extensive research and more than 100 interviews, including several private meetings with Roberts, the 422-page hardcover contends that Roberts is torn between often divergent priorities: to carry out a conservative agenda, and to protect the court's image and his place in history. The author is a legal analyst at CNN.

--"Rampage: MacArthur, Yamashita and the Battle of Manila by James M. Scott (W.W. Norton, $32.95) is powerful book about one of the most heartbreaking chapters of Pacific War history. The 635-page hardcover is based on extensive research in the U.S. and the Philippines, including war crimes testimony, after-action reports and survivor interviews. A new paperback edition will be available in November.

--"Our Man: Richard Holbrooke and The End of the American Century" by George Packer (Alfred A. Knopf, $30) is a new 595-page biography about a well-known and complicated U.S. diplomat who was admired and detested. He was the force behind the Dayton Accords that ended the Balkan wars, which was considered our nation's greatest diplomatic achievement in the post-Cold War era. The hardcover, drawn from Holbrooke's diaries and papers, tells an intimiate story of an extraordinary and deeply flawed man in a nonfiction narrative setting. The author, who has written several books, also wrote The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America, which won the 2013 National Book Award.

--"Method to the Madness: Donald Trump's Ascent as Told by Those Who Were Hired, Fired, Inspired -- and Inaugurated" by veteran reporters Allen Salkin and Aaron Short (All Points Books, $28.99) is an unbiased and entertaining oral history devoid of anonymous sources that shows President Trump had carefully planned his bid for the presidency since he launched what many considered to be a joke candidacy in 1999. Through candid conversations with more than 100 individuals close to the President, the authors make the case that Trump's erratic, shockingly brash approach to politics is consistent with his personal and professional style of information gathering, opinion seed-planting and exercising power. HIs business, media and political dealings from his old days serve as a guide for understanding the man and his mindset.

--"Barack and Joe: The Making of an Extraordinary Partnership" by Steven Levingston (Hachette Books, $28) is a fast-paced account of former Vice President Joe Biden's dynamic and at times stormy working relationship as well as friendship with President Obama. They supported each other through highs and lows during their eight years at the White House. The hardcover will be on sale early October, just in time for the 2020 Democractic primary season with Biden as the presumed front-runner. The author, who wrote "Kennedy and King," is the nonfiction book editor of the Washington Post.

--"Justice on Trial: The Kavanaugh Confirmation and the Future of the Supreme Court" by Mollie Hemingway and Carrie Severino (Regnery Publishing, $28.99) attempts to tell the story of what really happened behind the scenes during the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation and explore what the bitterly divisive hearings mean for the future of the Court and the battle for the soul of America. The 376-page insider's account is based on interviews of more than 100 people, including President Trump, several Supreme Court justices, and other high-ranking officials.

--"Ball of Collusion: The Plot to Rig An Election and Destroy A Presidency" by Andrew C. McCarthy (Encounter Books, $35.99) says the real collusion in the 2016 presidential election was not between the Trump campaign and Russia. Instead, it was between the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Obama administration. The 433-page hardcover is a fascinating story about Washington, D.C., poltics involving Trump, Clinton, Obama and others. The author of two New York Times bestsellers, McCarthy is a former federal prosecutor who received the Justice Department's highest honors.

--"The Anarchy: The East India Company, Corporate Violence, and the Pillage of an Empire" by William Dalrymple (Bloomsbury Publishing, $35) tells the story of the first global corporate power. It is essential reading for those seeking to understand Indian history under British rule as well as the origin of today's corporation that span continents. The lengthy volume provides a look at the beginnings of practices from lobbying to monopolies, which have defined modern business.

--"Plaintiff in Chief: A Portrait of Donald Trump in 3.500 Lawsuits" by James D. Zirin (All Points books, $28.99) analyzes Trump's outsized litigation history to reveal his temperament, methods, character and morality. The author asserts that Trump's behavior in the White House becomes clearer in the context of his bullying use of the law. Zirin is a former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.

--"The Years That Matter Most: How College Makes or Breaks Us" by Paul Tough (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $28) delivers fresh, fascinating insight on how the American system of colleges and universities helps and and hinders young people, especially low-income and first-generation students. The author tells the stories of students trying to find their way, with hope, joy and frustration, through the applicatin process and into college. New research and numerous visits to college campuses also reveal how the landscape of higher education has shifted in recent decades and exposes the hidden truths of how the system works and for whom. "It's about higher education and social mobility, and the way those two forces intersect in the U.S. today," said the author, who has written several books and is a contributing writer to the New York Times Magazine.

--"Buzzer Beaters and Memorial Magic: A Memoir of the Vanderbilt Commodores, 1987-1989" by Barry Goheen (Mercer University Press, $35). Recognize the author's name? The former three-point bomber is from Marshall County High School in Kentucky where he once guided the Marshals to their first-ever trip to Sweet 16 during the mid 1980s. Now an attorney in Atlanta, Goheen played for coach C.M. Newton at Vanderbilt where the 6-4 lefthander became a legend, hitting many clutch field goals. The new hardcover, filled with inside stories, is a nice addition for a college basketball fan's library.

--"Piety & Power: Mike Pence and the Taking of the White House" by Tom Lobianco (Dey Street Books, $26.99) is a revealing biography about the aruguably the most secretive vice president in modern history. The new volume highlights everything from Pence's early life in Indiana and the personal and professional steps he took to get to Washington to his often-strained relationship with President Trump. The author is a longtime reporter who covered Pence from the statehouse to the White House for the Associated Press, CNN, and the Indianapolis Star.

--"Tough Love: My Story of the Things Worth Fighting For" by Susan Rice (Simon & Schuster, $30) is an intimate account about the author's personal life and professional career, including her stints as national security advisor and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations under President Obama. The hardcover, which becomes available on October 8, includes many interesting stories and tidbits, including sports which shaped Rice personally and professionally. She played point guard on her high school and Oxford University basketball teams.

--"A New History of Kentucky, Second Edition" by James C. Klotter and Craig Thompson Friend (University Press of Kentucky, $44.95) is an updated version of the first comprehensive history of the state since the publication of Thomas D. Clark's landmark History of Kentucky over 60 years ago. Recently published in 2018, the 563-page volume brings the Commonwealth to life and includes a full overview of the state and its economic, educational, environmental, racial, and religious histories.

--"IBM: The Rice and Fall and Reinvention of a Global Icon" by James W. Cortada (The MIT Press, $45) is a history of one of the most influential American companies of the last century. The author is a historian who worked at IBM for many years. He writes the secret to IBM's longevity

in information technology market is its capacity to adapt to changing circumstances and technologies. As you may recall, the powerful company almost went out of business in the early 1990s.

--"The Great Successor: The Divinely Perfect Destiny of Brilliant Comrade Kim Jong Un" by Anna Fifield (Public Affairs, $28) is a remarkable behind-the-scenes story of the rise and reign of the world's strangest and most elusive tyrant from secretive North Korea. The author is the Beijing bureau chief for the Wahington Post.

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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