Category Archives: Books

“Sacred Liberty” offers a dramatic, sweeping survey of how America built a unique model of religious freedom, perhaps the nation’s “greatest invention.”

Our current climate of divisiveness over religion is not new, but our misinterpretation of religious liberty is. In fact, Steve Waldman argues, we are now at risk of undermining this hard-won and fragile American right.

Waldman’s latest book, Sacred Liberty, (HarperOne, $28.99), is a sweeping historical survey of how our principles evolved and matured from the founding of the nation and the Constitution under James Madison to the fraught and often controversial integration of various faiths—Jews, Catholics, Native American, African slaves and their religions, Mormons, and now Muslims—into the American mainstream, sometimes successfully, sometimes not.

Waldman makes clear that these battles resulted in today’s firm legal foundation of both the separation of church and state and the protection of religious minorities—which, counterintuitively, has allowed the U.S. to become the most religious country among developed nations. He contends that religious liberty is at the core of America’s success.

“Depriving someone of their money or property can certainly wound,” he writes, “but blocking their path to God deprives them of
something even more important—their own quest to find meaning in life.”

Yet the consensus around religious freedom is fragile. There are signs that the core principles of religious freedom are not universally shared or understood. In reminding us of our past, Waldman hopes this history can illuminate our path forward.
Over the course of its development, America has been tempted to forget its principles of religious freedom and vilify particular religious minorities.

But each time there have been heroes who have stepped forward to remind us of our better natures and encourage us to stand by our core principles.To protect out most fundamental rights—enshrined in the First Amendment—we must remember the lessons of our past and defend the hard-won progressive values that are the true heart of America’s greatness.

Meet Shannon Watts, the “NRA’s Worst Nightmare”. Go get ’em girl!

She is one of our favorite women. She’s a fave with Michael Bloomberg, Hilary Clinton and Katie Couric, this gem named Shannon Watts—and dubbed “the NRA’s Worst Nightmare”.

Fight Like a Mother: How a Grassroots Movement Took on the Gun Lobby and Why Women Will Change the World Fight Like a Mother: How a Grassroots Movement Took on the Gun Lobby and Why Women Will Change the World (HarperOne, $25.99) tells the inspiring story of how Watts’ rallying call-to-action grew into a powerful women’s
movement to protect children from America’s epidemic of gun violence, and offers lessons for others who want to make a difference in their community.

Fight Like a Mother: How a Grassroots Movement Took on the Gun Lobby and Why Women Will Change the WorldOn the morning of December 14, 2012, stay-at-home-mom Shannon Watts was folding laundry when the news broke that there had been a shooting in Newtown, Connecticut involving young children. Outraged and heartbroken, Shannon felt an overwhelming need to act. Discovering there was no organization for gun violence correspondent to MADD—Mothers Against Drunk Driving—she vowed to build it.

Fight Like a Mother is the powerful story of how one mother’s cry for action started a national women’s movement—MADD
Mom’s Demand Action—to fight some of the richest and most powerful people in America: the gun lobby. It is an inspiring
record of how outraged mothers became engaged citizens, creating a powerful grassroots network of local chapters in all
50 states.

Along with her observations and wisdom, Watts shares inspiring messages of perseverance, courage, and compassion, and outlines the core mantras and principles that MDA has used to battle the NRA and the intimidating tactics they use to prevent gun safety progress. Throughout, Shannon proves that a woman with a laptop can be more powerful than a man with a gun.

Fight Like a Mother explores the unique power of women. While not everyone can be on the front lines of the fight, every mom is already an organizer, and Shannon shows them how to put their skills to use in their own community, in their own way. Bringing activism into the everyday, the book will inspire everyone—mothers and fathers, students and teachers, lawmakers, and every citizen outraged, angry, and motivated to work for change—transforming hearts, minds and laws, and most importantly, show them how to honor their values with action.

“How the Bible Actually Works” explains that the Bible is powerful learning tool that nurtures our spiritual growth by refusing to provide us with easy answers

So what is this hype about a book called the Bible?

In How the Bible Actually Works (HarperOne, $26.99), controversial evangelical Bible scholar, blogger, podcast host Peter Enns  explains that the Bible is not an instruction manual or rule book but a powerful learning tool that nurtures our spiritual growth by refusing to provide us with easy answers, instead forcing us to acquire wisdom.

For many Christians, the Bible is a how-to manual filled with literal
truths about belief about God that must be strictly followed. But the Bible is not static, Peter Enns argues. It does not hold easy answers to the perplexing questions and issues that confront us in our daily lives. Rather, the Bible is a dynamic instrument for study that not
only offers an abundance of insights but provokes us to find our own answers to spiritual questions, cultivating God’s wisdom within us.

“The Bible becomes a confusing mess when we expect it to function as a rulebook for faith. But when we allow the Bible to determine our expectations, we see that Wisdom, not answers, is the Bible’s true subject matter,” writes Enns. This distinction, he points out, is important because when we come to the Bible expecting it to be a textbook intended by God to give us unwavering certainty about our faith, we are actually creating problems for ourselves.

The Bible, in other words, really isn’t the problem; having the wrong expectation is what interferes with our reading. Rather than considering the Bible as an ancient book weighed down with problems, flaws, and contradictions that must be defended by modern readers, Enns offers a vision of the holy scriptures as an inspired and empowering resource to help us better understand how to live as a person of faith today.

How the Bible Actually Works makes clear that there is no one right way to read the Bible. Moving us beyond the damaging idea that “being right” is the most important measure of faith, Enns’s freeing approach to Bible study helps us to instead focus on pursuing enlightenment and building our relationship with God—which is exactly what the Bible was designed to do

First he showed us to “Unfuck Yourself.” Now Gary John Bishop now offers us “Stop Doing That Shit”

Everyone fucks up. Me. You. Pope Francis. And every Republican.

Now it’s time to stop doing shit.

From the author of the New York Times and international bestseller Unfu*k Yourself, Gary John Bishop now offers us Stop Doing That Sh*t, a no-holds barred guide to breaking through our cycles of self-sabotaging behavior to get what we want out of life.

Bishop explains how our destructive cycles come down to the way that we’re wired. He then identifies different types of people and the ways we fuck ourselves over: We can’t save money. We land in the same type of toxic relationship. We’re stuck in a rut at work.

Analyzing why we act the way we do, including what our common grenades are that blow up our lives, Bishop then shows how we can interrupt the cycle and stop self-sabotaging our lives. Written in the same in your face style as Unfu*k Yourself, Stop Doing that Sh*t will help us get in touch with our psychological machinery so we learn to interrupt negative thoughts and behavior before they start, allowing us to give our attention to something else, and start to find success in the areas we thought we never could.

We can take back our lives. We may have fucked up in the past, but Stop Doing That Sh*t will show us how to break the patterns in order to live the lives we yearn to have.

Paul Stanley gives fans a KISS and a tour of his life, from the kitchen to the stage

Wanna go backstage at a KISS concert? We cab guarantee fans one thing: In Backstage Pass, (HarperOne, $27.99) Paul Stanley, legendary frontman and rhythm guitarist of the group, offers grants fans an all-access backstage pass to his personal life, and shows them how to pursue a royal rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle of their own offering hard-won advice and rules to live by from a rock n’ roll legend.

Backstage PassIn this follow-up to his popular bestseller Face the Music, Paul takes us deeper into his personal life and his home life on and off the stage, revealing what he eats, drinks, and does with his friends and family, he’s learned from a lifetime at the frontman of the iconic band KISS, and how he brings his unique sensibility not only to his superstar music career but to every area of his life—from the business to parenting to health and happiness, to the kitchen and the bar to the gym and the office.

Showcasing his unique lifestyle, Backstage Pass is a rare look at the man beneath the modern rock god persona. Paul shares fascinating details about his life—his fitness routine, philosophy, business principles, how he finds inspiration, passion, and joy after nearly 50 years filling arenas and selling out shows, and even his favorite meals, and includes recipes from friends such as Anthony Bourdain, Rocco DiSpirito and Mario Batali.

Backstage Pass divulges more true stories of the rock legend’s relationships, hardships, and wild nights, contains intimate four-color never-before-seen photos from Paul’s personal collection, and offers surprising lessons on the discipline and hard work that have made him one of the healthiest and most successful rock n’ roll frontmen in history—and a model superstar for the modern age.
This is the book for fans who love living large, but also want to kick ass at everyday life. From doing shots at the bar to enjoying a glass of red on the patio, Paul shows you how you can rock n’ roll all night and party every day—without missing a beat or looking like you do.

Hana Ali captures her father in “At Home with Muhammad Ali: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Forgiveness”

Athlete. Activist. Champion. Ambassador. Icon. Father. The Greatest. Gatorade Pitchman. Muhammad Ali is all these things.

His daughter, Hana Ali,  captures the legendary heavyweight boxing champion, Olympic Gold medalist, activist and philanthropist as never before in At Home with Muhammad Ali: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Forgiveness (Amistad, $25.99), a candid and intimate family memoir, based on personal recordings he kept throughout his adult life.

Hana illuminates this momentous figure as only a daughter can. As Ali approached the end of his astonishing boxing career, he embraced a new purpose and role, turning his focus to his family and friends. In that role, he took center stage as an ambassador for peace and friendship.|

Dedication to preserving his family’s unique history, Ali began recording a series of audio diaries in the ’70s, which his daughter later inherited. Through these private tapes, as well as personal journals, love letters, cherished memories, and many never-before-seen photographs, she reveals a complex man devoted to keeping all nine of his children united, and to helping others.

Hana Gives us a privileged glimpse inside the Ali home, sharing the everyday adventures her family experienced—all so “normal,” with visitors such as Clint Eastwood and John Travolta dropping by. She shares the joy and laughter, the hardship and pain, and, most importantly, the dedication and love that has bonded them.

“It’s been said that my father is one of the most written-bout people in the world,” Hana writes. “As the chronicles continue to grow, the deepest and most essential, essence of his spirit is still largely unknown.” A moving and poignant love letter from a daughter to a father. At Home with Muhammad Ali is the untold story of Ali’s family legacy—a gift both eternal and priceless.

An old dog (a very old dog) teaches Dave Barry some new tricks. Thank you Lucy.

There isn’t anything worse than being in the doghouse. I didn’t have the catch to catch up with Dave Barry’s delightfully witty and warm and damn funny Lessons From Lucy: The Simple Joys of an Old, Happy Dog, his latest gem from Simon & Schuster ($26).

Credit: Jeffry Salter
Lucy and his dad

The book was all set and ready to be published October 2018, but when a medical crisis upended the Barry family, the book was postponed so they could deal with this unforeseen challenge. In the final version—the one you must pick up now—Dave has included an additional chapter about that crisis.

I won’t blame you if you jump ahead to that final, profoundly moving chapter. But, please, not at the expense of the preceding chapters. In the book, Dave has just turned 70—the same age his beloved rescue dog Lucy is in dog years. Dave can’t help but notice that Lucy seems to be handling the aging process more gracefully than he is. “She’s way better at this than I am,” he writes. “I know much more than she does, but she knows something I don’t: how to be happy.”

That’s the idea behind .

“This book represents my attempt to understand how Lucy manages to be so happy, and to figure out whether I can use any of her methods to make my own life happier,” Dave writes. “Because—not to get too dramatic—I don’t have that much time left.”

Lucy imparts seven crucial life lessons to Dave—lessons of value to anyone, at any age:

Dave shows how to age gracefully, taking cues from his beloved and highly intelligent canine. Faced with the obstacles and challenges of life after middle age, Barry turns to Lucy to learn how to live his best life. Lucy, it seems, is dealing with old age far better than he is. She has more friends, fewer worries, and way more fun. So Dave decides to figure out how Lucy manages to stay so  happy, to see if he can make his own life happier by doing the things she does (except for drinking from the toilet).

Lucy teaches Dave such lessons as “Make New Friends” (an unfortunate fail when he can’t overcome his dislike for mankind) and “Don’t Stop Having Fun” (validating his longtime membership in two ridiculous but fun groups: The Lawn Rangers, a marching unit that performs in parades—and even Obama’s inauguration—pushing lawnmowers and twirling brooms; and the Rock Bottom Remainders, the world’s oldest and least talented all-author band).

She shows Dave how to live in the present, how to let go of daily grievances, and how to feel good in his own skin. The lessons are drawn from Dave’s routine humiliations and stream-of-consciousness accounts of the absurdities of daily existence, as he riffs hilariously on dogs, people, and life in general.

“Throw Me to The Wolves” is an enthralling story of voyeurism, betrayal and the gray areas between truth and fiction in an era of tabloid media and fake news

In the aftermath of Brexit, the body of a young woman is found by the river Thames. The tabloids are instantly aflame, pointing fingers at her neighbor Mr. Wolphram, a former teacher at an elite boarding
school and the perfect target for media monstering: intellectual, introverted, and eccentric. Charged with investigating this murder is a detective who was once one of Wolphram’s students.

As the case unfolds, he must face memories from decades ago that he has tried hard to forget—the routine physical and psychologal abuse acted out by teachers at the school (never Wolphram), and of his friend and schoolmate Danny, who disappeared at the peak of IRA terror. In the midst of the present murder investigation, the detective confronts his own suppressed memory, which proves the ultimate source of both mystery and revelation.

Throw Me to the WolvesWith the momentum of classic crime fiction and the emotional depth of literary fiction, Throw Me to The Wolves (Bloomsbury, $29) vividly explores the harrowing force of the modern media spectacle to distract from more common and pervasive acts of violence, and the dangerous power of the ever-present news feed to dissolve the boundary between truth and fiction.

From the Man Booker Prize-longlisted author Patrick McGuinness, Throw Me to The Wolves is an enthralling story of voyeurism, betrayal, and the gray areas between truth and fiction in an era of tabloid media and fake news.

Barbara! Rosie! Star! Meredith! Whoopi! Elisabeth! “The View” was hardly a Joy

Here’s to the ladies who lunch.

Oops! Wrong drama.

When Barbara Walters launched The View, network executives told her that hosting it would tarnish her reputation. Instead, within 10 years, she’d revolutionized morning TV and made household names of her co-hosts: Joy Behar, Star Jones, Meredith Vieira and Elisabeth Hasselbeck. But the daily chatfest didn’t just comment on the news.

It became the news.

And the headlines barely scratched the surface.

Based on unprecedented access, including stunning interviews with nearly every host, in Ladies Who Punch: The Explosive Inside Story of The View (Thomas Dunne Books, $28.99) award-winning journalist
Ramin Setoodeh takes readers backstage where the stars really spoke their minds.

Ladies Who Punch: The Explosive Inside Story of "The View"

Here’s the full story of how Star, then Rosie O’Donnell, then Whoopi Goldberg tried to take over the show, while Barbara struggled to maintain control of it all, a modern-day Lear with her media-savvy daughters. You’ll read about how so many co-hosts had a tough time fitting in, suffered humiliations at the table, then pushed themselves away, feeling betrayed―one nearly quitting during a commercial. Meanwhile, the director was being driven insane . . . especially by Rosie.

Ladies Who Punch uncovers the truth about Star’s weight loss and wedding madness. Rosie’s feud with Adolph Frump. Whoopi’s toxic relationship with Rosie. Barbara’s difficulty stepping away. Plus, all the unseen hugs, snubs, tears―and one dead rodent―to show why The View can be mimicked and mocked, but it can never be matched.

Important books about film and film stars, published by the University Press of Kentucky.

Books about film and film stars—important books about film and film stars—are published by the University Press of Kentucky. Here is a handful of new and forthcoming film titles.

Legendary actress and two-time Academy Award winner Olivia de Havilland ($34.95) is renowned for her role as Melanie Wilkes in Gone with the Wind (1939). She often inhabited characters who were delicate, ladylike, elegant and refined. At the same time, she was a survivor with a fierce desire to direct her own destiny on and off the screen. She fought and won a lawsuit against Warner Bros. over a contract dispute that changed the studio contract system forever. She is also renowned for her long feud with her fellow actress and sister Joan Fontaine—a feud that lasted from 1975 until Fontaine’s death in 2013.

Author Victoria Amador utilizes extensive interviews and forty years of personal correspondence with de Havilland to present an in-depth look at the life and career of this celebrated actress .Amador begins with Havilland’s early life ( born in Japan in 1916 to a single mother and controlling stepfather) and her theatrical ambitions at a young age. The book then follows her career as she skyrocketed to star status, becoming one of the most well-known starlets in Tinseltown.

Readers are given an inside look at her love affairs with iconic cinema figures such as James Stewart, and John Huston, and her onscreen partnership with Errol Flynn, with whom she starred in The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) and Dodge City (1939 ). After she moved to Europe in the mid-’50s, de Havilland became the first woman to serve as the president of the Cannes Film Festival in 1965, and remained active but selective in film and television until 1988.

Olivia de HavillandLady Triumphant is a tribute to one of Hollywood’s greatest legends, who has evolved from a gentle heroine to a strong-willed, respected and admired artist

With celebrated works such as Alien, Blade Runner, Thelma & Louise, and Gladiator, Ridley Scott has secured his place in Hollywood. This legendary director and filmmaker has had an undeniable influence on art and the culture of filmmaking, but is also a respected media businessman.

In Ridley Scott: A Biography ($40), Vincent LoBrutto delves into Ridley Scott’s oeuvre in a way that allows readers to understand the yin and yang of his exceptional career. Presented is a unique crosscut between the biographical facts of Scott’s personal life—his birth and early days in northeast England, his life in New York City— and his career in Hollywood as a director and producer of television commercials, TV series, miniseries and feature films.

Every film is presented, analyzed, and probed for a greater understanding of the visionary, his personality, and his thought process, for a deeper perception of his astounding work and accomplishments. The voices of cast and crew who have worked with Scott, as well as the words of the man himself, are woven throughout this book for a fully realized, critical biography, revealing the depth of the artist and his achievements.

The many con men, gangsters and drug lords portrayed in popular culture are examples of the dark side of the American dream. Viewers are fascinated by these twisted versions of heroic American archetypes, like the self-made man and the entrepreneur. Applying the critical skills he developed as a Shakespeare scholar, Paul A. Cantor finds new depth in familiar landmarks of popular culture in Pop Culture and the Dark Side of the American Dream:
Con Men, Gangsters, Drug Lords and Zombies ($40). He invokes Shakespearean models to show that the concept of the tragic hero can help us understand why we are both repelled by and drawn to figures such as Vito and Michael Corleone or Walter White.

Beginning with Huckleberry Finn and ending with The Walking Dead, Cantor also uncovers the link between the American dream and frontier life. In imaginative variants of a Wild West setting, popular culture has served up disturbing—and yet strangely compelling—images of what happens when people move beyond the borders of law and order. Cantor demonstrates that, at its best, popular culture raises thoughtful questions about the validity and viability of the American dream, thus deepening our understanding of America itself.

Throughout his career, Alfred Hitchcock had to deal with a wide variety of censors attuned to the slightest suggestion of sexual innuendo, undue violence, toilet humor, religious disrespect and all forms of indecency, real or imagined. From 1934 to 1968, the Motion Picture Production Code Office controlled the content and final cut on all films made and distributed in the United States. Code officials protected sensitive ears from standard four-letter words, as well as a few five-letter words like tramp and six-letter words like cripes. They also scrubbed “excessively lustful” kissing from the screen and ensured that no criminal went unpunished.

During their review of Hitchcock’s films, the censors demanded an average of 22.5 changes, ranging from the mundane to the mind-boggling, on each of his American films. Code reviewers dictated the ending of Rebecca (1940), absolved Cary Grant of guilt in Suspicion (1941), edited Cole Porter’s lyrics in Stage Fright (1950), decided which shades should be drawn in Rear Window (1954), and shortened the shower scene in Psycho (1960).

In Hitchcock and the Censors ($50), author John Billheimer traces the forces that led to the Production Code and describes Hitchcock’s interactions with code officials on a film-by-film basis as he fought to protect his creations, bargaining with code reviewers and sidestepping censorship to produce a lifetime of memorable films. Despite the often-arbitrary decisions of the code board, Hitchcock still managed to push the boundaries of sex and violence permitted in films by charming—and occasionally tricking—the censors and by swapping off bits of dialogue, plot points, and individual shots (some of which had been deliberately inserted as trading chips) to protect cherished scenes and images.

By examining Hitchcock’s priorities in dealing with the censors, this work highlights the director’s theories of suspense as well as his magician-like touch when negotiating with code officials.