The whole truth

Tomes from the 'fact' department
By BARBARA HOFFERT  |  September 14, 2009

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THINKING IT THROUGH Zadie Smith comes clean with Changing My Mind: Occasional Essays.

It's the economy, stupid. Or maybe politics or literature. Fall non-fiction goes wide and deep, so plan for some marathon reading.

On the economy, look for The Sellout: How Three Decades of Wall Street Greed and Government Mismanagement Destroyed the Global Finance System (HarperBusiness, November 3), by CNBC's CHARLES GASPARINO, and Too Big To Fail: The Inside Story of How Wall Street and Washington Fought To Save the Financial System — and Themselves (Viking, October 20), by ANDREW ROSS SORKIN, chief mergers-and-acquisitions reporter for the New York Times. In How Markets Fail:The Logic of Economic Calamities (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, November 10), JOHN CASSIDY says that, alas, market decisions are no more rational than our own.

DAVID PLOUFFE shows how Obama got to the White House in The Audacity To Win: The Inside Story and Lessons of Barack Obama's Historic Victory (Viking, November 3). New Yorker writer HENDRIK HERTZBERG shows what that means in ¡Obámanos!: The Rise of a New Political Era (Penguin Press, October 29). MICHAEL SANDEL then looks at Justice: What's the Right Thing To Do (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, September 15), which is drawn from his popular Harvard course and is set for PBS.

Media maven KEN AULETTA spots the future in Googled: The End of the World As We Know It (Penguin Press, November 3). For current ingenuity, read WILLIAM KAMKWAMBA & BRYAN MEALER's The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope (Morrow, September 29), which tells how a young Malawi man built windmills from scrap and lit up his village.

American history buffs will rejoice in GORDON S. WOOD's Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789–1815 (Oxford University Press, October 26) and JOHN KEEGAN's The American Civil War: A Military History (Knopf, October 20). Meanwhile, ANTONY BEEVOR delivers D-Day: The Battle for Normandy (Viking, October, 13).

For an overview of Communism, see Oxford professor DAVID PRIESTLAND's The Red Flag: A History of Communism (Grove, November 20). NEIL SHEEHAN's A Fiery Peace in a Cold War: Bernard Schriever and the Ultimate Weapon (Random House, September 22) profiles our efforts to maintain US nuclear superiority.

For biography lovers, there's JOAN BISKUPIC's American Original: The Life and Constitution of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia (Sarah Crichton Books/Farrar, Straus and Giroux, November 10), JOHN MILTON COOPER JR.'s Woodrow Wilson: A Biography (Knopf, November 2), PAUL JOHNSON's Churchill (Viking, November 3), and HARRIET REISEN's Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind Little Women (Henry Holt, October 27).

DECLAN KIBERD's Ulysses and Us: The Art of Everyday Life in Joyce's Masterpiece (Norton, September 28) argues that Ulysses is a book for the masses. FRANCINE PROSE's Anne Frank: The Book, the Life, the Afterlife (HarperCollins, September 29) considers the famed diary as literature.

More non-fiction by enterprising novelists: MARGARET DRABBLE's The Pattern in the Carpet: A Personal History with Jigsaws (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, September 16), MICHAEL CHABON's Manhood for Amateurs:The Pleasures and Regrets of a Husband (HarperCollins, October 6), MARY GORDON's Reading Jesus: A Writer's Encounter with the Gospels (Pantheon, October 27), and ZADIE SMITH's Changing My Mind: Occasional Essays (Penguin Press, November 12). And, finally, from quintessential memoirist MARY KARR: Lit: A Memoir (HarperCollins, November 3).

Related: Review: The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, How Brown won, Gift Guide 2010: Books that'll make your coffee table look smart, More more >
  Topics: Books , Barack Obama, Culture and Lifestyle, David Plouffe,  More more >
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