We've got several nonfiction books featured on the Boswell Best this week with bookseller recommendations. Here's one.
Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle East (Doubleday), by Scott Anderson.
The first thing to know: Lawrence in Arabia is a far cry from the classic film “Lawrence of Arabia.” The other thing to know: the massive amount of research Scott Anderson has done to create this brilliant history is why the two stories diverge. Outside forces turned the Middle East upside down and left them fragmented by the end of World War I. T.E. Lawrence was caught in the thick of it, going from archaeologist to leading an Arabian Army. By the end of the story, I had a new understanding for the region, and I’ve no doubt that this dazzling page turner will suck you into this eye-opening story as well.
In addition, Michael Paterniti's The Telling Room (Dial) is featured. We included Nick's quote in a post last week. Here's a recommendation on NPR's The Splendid Table. And here's the blog.
Plus today's the on-sale day for Boris Kachka's Hothouse, (Simon and Schuster) that history of FSG that I and seemingly every other bookseller and rep I know are talking about. If you missed the blog post, here's a link.
There are rarely advance copies of political books on the shelves, so don't expect to see early recs from us in this area, unless we have a super special relationship with someone involved and an absolutely spot-on reader (Translation: many hoops to jump through, not going to fall in our lap, plus a book like this is probably trying to stay under wraps before publication.
Dan Belz is the longtime political correspondent for the Washington Post (Washington Amazonian? Too soon?) and is known for The Battle for America 2008. Now he has produced Collision 2012: Obama vs. Romney and the Future of Elections in America (Viking). After reading and listening to all these pieces on This Town, my first instinct is to ask, "Yes, but which television show is he on?" Jason wasn't originally going to put this on Boswell's Best, but he noticed that demand has gone crazy for the book and adjusted his buy. Fellow Post-er Sean Sullivan has a piece about Romney's hesiation running a second campaign.
On a lighter note, Rob Sheffield's newest is Turn Around Bright Eyes: The Rituals of Love and Karaoke (It Books). Sheffield's been chronicling his life in music since the beloved Love is a Mix Tape, the story of losing his wife at a young age. He moved to New York to start his life anew. And as Publishers Weekly says, he emarked on a "journey to rebuild his life with the help of good lovin' and a hot karaoke machine." Ben Apatoff in the New York Daily News writes "Sheffield is one of the few music journalists who can get beyond how a song sounds and into how it makes a listener feel, making him an ideal candidate to write about an art that's entirely more about feeling great than sounding great."
Journalist and self-described psychology nerd David McRaney offers You Are Now Less Dumb: How to Conquer Mob Mentality, How to Buy Happiness, and All the Other Ways to Outsmart Yourself (Gotham), following up on You are Not so Smart. Publishers Weekly says "McRaney is a fine stylist, easily balancing anecdote, analysis, and witty asides. Despite a flippant and self-helpy title, this book is seriously informative."
Here's a trailer for the book, explaining why we thought geese grew on trees.
And finally, Pilgrim's Wilderness: A True Story of Faith and Madness on the Alaska Frontier (Crown) is being positioned as Into the Wild meets Helter Skelter, which is coincidental only because I was listening to this All Things Considered piece on Charles Manson as a child on Sunday. A little publisher's copy, maestro: "When Papa Pilgrim appeared in the Alaska frontier outpost of McCarthy with his wife and fifteen children in tow, his new neighbors had little idea of the trouble to come. The Pilgrim Family presented themselves as a shining example of the homespun Christian ideal, with their proud piety and beautiful old-timey music, but their true story ran dark and deep. Within weeks, Papa had bulldozed a road through the mountains to the new family home at an abandoned copper mine, sparking a tense confrontation with the National Park Service and forcing his ghost town neighbors to take sides in an ever-more volatile battle over where a citizen’s rights end and the government’s power begins."
Damaris Colhoun in The Daily Beast writes that "with even reporting and spare, lovely prose, (Tom) Kizzia exposes the tyrannies of faith, and a family’s desperate unraveling. It will make your skin crawl." Alas, The Daily Beast said goodbye to Newsweek this past week. The Boston Globe sold. And now the Washington Post. Didn't you find it odd that the Post sales was just days after the profile of Katharine Weymouth. Why did she do this profile? So strange.
There's a lot in the world I can't answer, but I can tell you where to find these books. They are all on Boswell Best, at least through next Monday, August 12. Unless we sell out, and then we'll get more in as soon as we can.