Notable Biographies

Summer Reading 2013 - Notable Biographies

My Beloved World by Sonia SotomayorMy Beloved World  
Sotomayor, Sonia
Call Number: 921 S7195
2013
An instant American icon--the first Hispanic on the U.S. Supreme Court--tells the story of her life before becoming a judge in this memoir. Sonia Sotomayor recounts her life from a Bronx housing project to the federal bench, a progress that is testament to her extraordinary determination and the power of believing in oneself. She writes of her precarious childhood and the refuge she took with her passionately spirited paternal grandmother. She describes her resolve as a young girl to become a lawyer, and how she made this dream become reality: valedictorian of her high school class, summa cum laude at Princeton, Yale Law, prosecutor in the Manhattan D.A.'s office, private practice, federal district judge before the age of forty. She writes about her deeply valued mentors, about her failed marriage, about her cherished family of friends.
Coolidge by Amity ShlaesCoolidge  
Shlaes, Amity
Call Number: 921 C774SH
2012
 Amity Shlaes, author of The Forgotten Man, delivers a brilliant and provocative reexamination of America’s thirtieth president, Calvin Coolidge, and the decade of unparalleled growth that the nation enjoyed under his leadership. In this riveting biography, Shlaes traces Coolidge’s improbable rise from a tiny town in New England to a youth so unpopular he was shut out of college fraternities at Amherst College up through Massachusetts politics. After a divisive period of government excess and corruption, Coolidge restored national trust in Washington and achieved what few other peacetime presidents have: He left office with a federal budget smaller than the one he inherited. A man of calm discipline, he lived by example, renting half of a two-family house for his entire political career rather than compromise his political work by taking on debt. Renowned as a throwback, Coolidge was in fact strikingly modern—an advocate of women’s suffrage and a radio pioneer. At once a revision of man and economics, Coolidge gestures to the country we once were and reminds us of qualities we had forgotten and can use today.  Show moreShow less
Unbroken : a World War II airman's story of survival, resilience, and redemption by Laura HillenbrandUnbroken : a World War II airman's story of survival, resilience, and redemption  
Hillenbrand, Laura
Call Number: 921 Z26H
2010
In 1943, while World War II raged on in the Pacific Theater, Lieutenant Louis Zamperini was the only survivor of a deadly plane crash in the middle of the ocean. Zamperini had a troubled youth, yet honed his athletic skills and made it all the way to the 1934 Olympics in Berlin. However, what lay before him was a physical gauntlet unlike anything he had encountered before: thousands of miles of open ocean, a small raft, and no food or water.
Rod: the autobiography by Rod StewartRod: the autobiography  
Stewart, Rod
Call Number: 921 S852
2012
A personal portrait by the legendary singer recounts his life on and off the stage, from his humble British roots and his riotous years on tour with The Jeff Beck Group and The Faces to his three marriages and his decades as a solo performer.
Mom & Me & Mom by Maya AngelouMom & Me & Mom  
Angelou, Maya
2013
For the first time, Maya Angelou reveals the triumphs and struggles of being the daughter of Vivian Baxter, an indomitable spirit whose petite size belied her larger-than-life presence - a presence absent during much of Angelou's early life. When her marriage began to crumble, Vivian famously sent three-year-old Maya and her older brother away from their California home to live with their grandmother in Stamps, Arkansas. Their reunion a decade later began a story that has never before been told.
Eleven Rings: the soul of success by  Eleven Rings: the soul of success  
Call Number: 921 J1343
2013
During his storied career as head coach of the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers, Jackson won more championships than any coach in the history of professional sports. Even more important, he succeeded in never wavering from coaching his way, from a place of deep values.
American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer by  American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer  
Call Number: 921 O62B
2005
"American Prometheus is the first full-scale biography of J. Robert Oppenheimer, "father of the atomic bomb," the brilliant, charismatic physicist who led the effort to capture the awesome fire of the sun for his country in time of war. Immediately after Hiroshima, he became the most famous scientist of his generation-one of the iconic figures of the twentieth century, the embodiment of modern man confronting the consequences of scientific progress. He was the author of a radical proposal to place international controls over atomic materials-an idea that is still relevant today. He opposed the development of the hydrogen bomb and criticized the Air Force's plans to fight an infinitely dangerous nuclear war. In the now almost-forgotten hysteria of the early 1950s, his ideas were anathema to powerful advocates of a massive nuclear buildup, and, in response, Atomic Energy Commission chairman Lewis Strauss, Superbomb advocate Edward Teller and FBI director J. Edgar Hoover worked behind the scenes to have a hearing board find that Oppenheimer could not be trusted with America's nuclear secrets. "American Prometheus sets forth Oppenheimer's life and times in revealing and unprecedented detail. Exhaustively researched, it is based on thousands of records and letters gathered from archives in America and abroad, on massive FBI files and on close to a hundred interviews with Oppenheimer's friends, relatives and colleagues. We follow him from his earliest education at the turn of the twentieth century at New York City's Ethical Culture School, through personal crises at Harvard and Cambridge universities. Then to Germany, where he studied quantum physics with the world's mostaccomplished theorists; and to Berkeley, California, where he established, during the 1930s, the leading American school of theoretical physics, and where he became deeply involved with social justice causes and their advocates, many of whom were communists. Then to Los Alamos, New Mexico, where he transformed a bleak mesa into the world's most potent nuclear weapons laboratory-and where he himself was transformed. And finally, to the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, which he directed from 1947 to 1966. "American Prometheus is a rich evocation of America at midcentury, a new and compelling portrait of a brilliant, ambitious, complex and flawed man profoundly connected to its major events-the Depression, World War II and the Cold War. It is at once biography and history, and essential to our understanding of our recent past-and of our choices for the future.
Crapalachia: a biography of place by  Crapalachia: a biography of place  
Call Number: 921 M477264
2013
" Crapalachia is the genuine article: intelligent, atmospheric, raucously funny and utterly wrenching. McClanahan joins Daniel Woodrell and Tom Franklin as a master chronicler of backwoods rural America." #151; The Washington Post "McClanahan's deep loyalty to his place and his people gives his story wings: 'So now I put the dirt from my home in my pockets and I travel. I am making the world my mountain.' And so he is." #151; Atlanta Journal-Constitution "[ Crapalachia is] a wild and inventive book, unquestionably fresh of spirit, and totally unafraid to break formalisms to tell it like it was." #151; Vice "Part memoir, part hillbilly history, part dream, McClanahan embraces humanity with all its grit, writing tenderly of criminals and outcasts, family and the blood ties that bind us." #151; Interview Magazine "A brilliant, unnerving, beautiful curse of a book that will both haunt and charmingly engage readers for years and years and years." #151; The Nervous Breakdown "McClanahan's style is as seductive as a circuit preacher's. Crapalachia is both an homage and a eulogy for a place where, through the sorcery of McClanahan's storytelling, we can all pull up a chair and find ourselves at home." #151; San Diego City Beat "McClanahan's frenetic account of life growing up in rural West Virginia practically seethes with place, with empathy, with humor and violence and the boringness/incredibleness of being young." #151; Flavorwire When Scott McClanahan was fourteen he went to live with his Grandma Ruby and his Uncle Nathan, who suffered from cerebral palsy. Crapalachia is a portrait of these formative years, coming-of-age in rural West Virginia. Peopled by colorful characters and their quirky stories, Crapalachia interweaves oral folklore and area history, providing an ambitious and powerful snapshot of overlooked Americana. Scott McClanahan is the author of Stories II and Stories V! His fiction has appeared in BOMB , Vice , and New York Tyrant . His novel Hill William is forthcoming from Tyrant Books.
My Life by Isadora DuncanMy Life  
Duncan, Isadora
Call Number: 921 D911.1L
2013
The visionary choreographer and dancer Isadora Duncan (1877-1927) not only revolutionized dance in the twentieth century but blazed a path for other visionaries who would follow in her wake. While many biographies have explored Duncan's crucial role as one of the founders of modern dance, no other book has proved as critical-as both historical record and vivid evocation of a riveting life-as her autobiography. From her early enchantment with classical music and poetry to her great successes abroad, to her sensational love affairs and headline-grabbing personal tragedies, Duncan's story is a dramatic one. My Life still stands alone as "a great document, revealing the truth of her life as she understood it, without reticence or apology or compromise" (New York Herald Tribune). Now, in this fully restored edition, with its risqué recollections and fervent idealism, My Life can be appreciated by a new generation.
A Curious Man: the strange and brilliant life of Robert A Curious Man: the strange and brilliant life of Robert "Believe it or not" Ripley  
Call Number: 921 R598T
2013
The marvelously compelling biography of Robert 'Believe It or Not' Ripley, the enigmatic cartoonist turned globetrotting millionaire who won international fame by celebrating the world's strangest oddities, and whose outrageous showmanship taught us to believe in the unbelievable. As portrayed by acclaimed biographer Neal Thompson, Ripley's life is the stuff of a classic American fairy tale. Cursed by shyness, Ripley turned his sense of being an outsider into an appreciation for strangeness.
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