Category Archives: Books

Craig Shirley’s latest book takes a detailed look at the “under explored” life of Ronald Reagan

So much has been written about Ronald Reagan, some might argue too much, but what remains under explored is the short time between his failure to obtain the nomination at the 1976 Republican convention (his second run for the nomination) and his rise from the ashes just four years later when he was elected president.

What happened in those four years to prepare him in a way in which he was not for 1976? How did he gain so much momentum from failing to winning? Surely, the reason for his popularity was more than just taking on issues, taking on Jimmy Carter, and being present and accounted for. What else was there?

Enter Craig Shirley’s Reagan Rising: The Decisive Years, 1976-1980. (Broadside Books, $29.99), to be officially released on March 21. Shirley explores how Reagan, already 65 years old, emerged from defeat to become a more reflective, more thoughtful, more hopeful, and more spiritual leader. Reagan’s movement quickly spread across the country, crossing party lines, and for the first time young people flocked to American conservatism.

As Reagan himself moved forward, redefining American conservatism, shifts in world leadership—Margaret Thatcher, Mikhail Gorbachev, Pope John Paul II—signaled a rising tide for change that aligned with Reagan’s core beliefs. He championed the individual at home, rejected containment and détente abroad, and advocated for the defeat of Soviet communism.

With the emergence of other key conservatives, Jeane Kirkpatrick, Jack Kemp, and Milton Friedman, among them, seminal conservative think tanks began to redefine American policy. By 1980, Ronald Reagan was fully entrenched as the leader of American conservatism and poised to become leader of the nation.

Craig Shirley was the first Reagan Scholar at Eureka College, Reagan’s alma mater, where he taught a coursed titled “Reagan 101.” Learn more at



Art appreciation made easy: “Who’s Afraid of Contemporary Art?” paints a winner

Can’t tell your ass from a Kandisky?

No worries. Young art professionals Kyung An and Jessica Cerasi knows contemporary art can be baffling, but they have found an answer.  And those answers, cutting straight to the questions that matter, can be found in Who’s Afraid of Contemporary Art? (Thames & Hudson, $16.95). The book offers concise and pointed insights into today’s art scene. It’s an easy-to-navigate A-to-Z guide examines (among other topics) how artists are propelled to stardom, explains what curators do, challenges our understanding of artistic skill and demystifies the art market.Image result

The authors’ entertaining and thought-provoking explanations draw on key artworks, artists and events from around the globe, including how the lights going on and off won the Turner Prize, what makes the likes of Marina Abramović and Ai Weiwei such great artists and why Kanye West would trade his Grammys to be one.

Packed with behind-the-scenes knowledge, written in plain language and fully cross-referenced, Who’s Afraid of Contemporary Art? is the perfect gallery companion both for those totally new to the scene and seasoned exhibition-goers.


“The Genetics of Health: Understand Your Genes for Better Health” is a practical guide to personalized health and nutrition

You can now take charge of your health by understanding the connection between our evolutionary past and our future well-being with The Genetics of Health: Understand Your Genes for Better Health (Atria Books/Beyond Words, $26), a practical guide to personalized health and nutrition from distinguished physician Sharad Paul, MD. Save the date: The book releases April 4.

Recognized as one of the best in his field, surgeon, academic and philanthropist (Time has dubbed him “Open Hearted Surgeon”), Dr. Paul combines everyday health with evolutionary biology and explains how to improve your overall wellness by following a diet and exercise plan based on your gene type.

Written in a captivating literary narrative that sets this title apart from the average self-help book, The Genetics of Health starts with our brains and covers everything from skin and muscles to hearts, diets and stress management. Dr. Paul shares key information and provides steps to improve our daily well-being—impacting everything from our energy levels to memory retention to our overall longevity.

Dr. Paul discusses:

· How to eat for your gene type

· Getting your genes tested

· How you can test for genetic dispositions such as laziness and procrastination

· The best types of exercise for your gene type

· How to reduce your risk of dementia

· The surprising benefits of dance and stress on our genes

· How anxiety and being a scaredy-cat can make you live longer

Our evolutionary past and genetic makeup determine how and why the body works the way it does and how it all combines to make us unique individuals. Presenting a compelling blend of medical mysteries, patient stories, and science, Dr. Paul has developed a revolutionary approach to wellness that will result in beautiful skin at any age, a healthier diet for muscle endurance and skeletal strength, a more resilient and efficient heart, better mood and memory balance and more.


Harper Design and MinaLima team for a most glorious “The Beauty and the Beast”

Tale as old as time/True as it can be/Barely even friends/Then somebody bends/Unexpectedly . . . 

Harper Design never does anything unexpectedly, but the publisher has bent itself in a most lavish way. They have just released The Beauty and the Beast ($29.99), the third book in a series of illustrated classics, that gets reimagined in a most deluxe gift edition. What a glorious journey . . . the tome features stunning new artwork and nine interactive features from the award-winning design studio behind the graphics for the Harry Potter film franchise, MinaLima. Timed to coincide with Walt Disney Pictures’ film adaptation of Beauty and the Beast, this book engages those interested in seeing the musical starring Emma Watson, Ewan McGregor, Kevin Kline and Ian McKellen.

To add elements of visual intrigue, MinaLima includes:

· A trifold map of the rich French city where the Merchant (Beauty’s father) and his family reside

· A fold out that reveals the interior of the Beast’s enchanted palace

· A series of windows that open to reveal different entertainments to Beauty while in the Beast’s palace

· A dial of the ring Beauty turns on her finger to return to the Beast’s palace after visiting her family

This collectible edition is filled with stunning illustrations of stories that continue to be cherished by readers of all ages. Forget the flowers, chuck the chocolates. The Beauty and the Beast  is a scrumptious wonder.

Need an escape from politics? Here’s a trio of good reads

Feeling exhausted from all the recent headlines?  Need an escape from politics?  Bad weather putting you in a bad mood?  Forget forking over big bucks to go for some R&R . . . you can savor R&R by Reading & Rereading. What better way to escape than reading a good book?

We offer a trio of our picks this month. Drawing you into a world of art and beauty, Alyson Richman’s The Velvet Hours (Berkley, $16) is inspired by the true-life story of a sumptuous Paris apartment that was mysteriously shuttered for seventy years right before the eve of WWII, and once belonged to the elusive courtesan, Marthe de Florian.  The novel is a mesmerizing journey of one woman’s reinvention from an impoverished childhood to art collector and muse.

Distract yourself with a glamour and flair with Melanie Benjamin’s Swans of Fifth Avenue (Bantam, $16).  This scandalous, riveting novel about the “New York’s Swans of the 1950’s and the scandalous headline-making, and enthralling friendship between literary legend Truman Capote and socialite Babe Paley.

If you’re still looking to journey further, try Dinah Jefferies’ The Tea Planter’s Daughter (Lake Union Publishing, $14.95). Set in ’20s Ceylon, a young Englishwoman marries a charming tea plantation and widower, only to discover he’s keeping terrible secrets about his past, including what happened to his first wife, that lead to devastating consequences.

Martin Torgoff’s “Bop Apocalypse: Jazz, Race, the Beats, and Drugs” is an addictive look at America’s early drug use . . . and the music that went with it

A few pages into this book got us addicted. That’s a good thing. To fully understand national discussions on drugs—whether it’s the legalization of marijuana or the use of Naloxone for heroin overdoses—we must look at how the American drug culture was born: With herbal jazz cigarettes (think joints) at the Savoy Ballroom and the Beats high on Benzedrine in Times Square. In Bop Apocalypse: Jazz, Race, the Beats, and Drugs (Da Capo, $25.99), Martin Torgoff explores the early days of America’s drug use and marries it with our counter culture history taking us back to the beginning of the 20th century when modern drug law, policy, and culture were first established, and when musicians, writers and artists came together under the influence.

The narrative of Bop Apocalypse encompasses:

  • the birth of jazz in New Orleans
  • the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, Harry Anslinger and his “Marijuana and Musicians” file which included Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie and others
  • Louis Armstrong and Chicago in the ’20s
  • “Reefer Madness” and the Marihuana Tax Act of ’37
  • Kansas City and the birth of swing
  • Bebop and the arrival of heroin to the streets of Harlem in the ’40s
  • the con­joining of principal Beat Generation characters in New York—Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Neal Cassady and William Burroughs; their journeys and the creation of the three jazz-imbued masterworks (On the Road, Howl and Naked Lunch)
  • the birth, by 1960, of a new bohemian culture in cities and on college campuses across America

    The last known photo of Billie Holiday, snapped during a Verve recording

The juxtaposition of genius and addiction is notable throughout. Billy Holiday’s heroin addiction is discussed candidly with revealing new details from bebop hooker Ruby Rosano who shot up with Holiday’s help in a basement apartment while Charlie Parker played a blues nearby. Other vignettes like the engagement of the Miles Davis Quintet at the Café Bohemia in ’56 introduced John Coltrane’s brilliance to an audience of adoring fans as he spiraled into addiction and Davis reemerged clean.

A book that lays bare the ways in which race, drugs, and music collided to create a culture of both creative ingenuity and, at times, self-destruction, Bop Apocalypse tracks the impact of music’s long love affair with illicit substances.

Crazy over coconuts? Savor Ramin Ganeshram’s new tasty cookbook

The big question: Are coconuts nuts?

The simple answer: No. Coconuts are classified as drupes (more specifically “dry drupes”; a drupe is a fruit with a hard stony covering enclosing the seed (like a peach or olive).  Got it?

Now get Cooking with Coconut: 125 Recipes for Healthy Eating: Delicious Uses for Every Form—Oil, Flour, Water, Milk, Cream, Sugar, Dried & Shredded (Storey Publishing, $18.95) the new book by Ramin Ganeshram, an award-winning cookbook author and professionally trained chef. That may be a long title, but coconuts are among the hottest food trends around, with eaters everywhere eager for new and exciting ways to incorporate it into their diets. Not only is it a superfood—boosting energy and improving heart health—but coconut is delicious, bringing fresh, rich flavor to any dish.

In her book, Ganeshram (who grew up with an appreciation for coconut, passed down from her Trinidadian father) presents all those original recipes that use coconut in all its forms, from coconut milk and oil, dried and powdered, to fresh coconut. Options span the menu, from breakfast dishes like Gluten-Free Coconut Bread with Meyer Lemon Glaze, and Savory Coconut Crepes, to dinner and dessert dishes like Coconut Tikka Masala, and Coconut Rum Crème Brulee. Ganeshram also tells the captivating stories behind her dishes, many of which have roots in traditional coconut-producing countries like Brazil, Jamaica and Thailand.

Ganeshram dishes up everything home cooks and health-conscious eaters need to know to fully enjoy this delectable powerhouse. Mmmm!

Loretta Swit’s new role? An artist whose watercolors of animals are wonderful. So here, we give her and her book hot lips service

Art isn’t easy. That’s what Sondheim says. But Loretta Swit makes it look so . . . well, maybe not easy, but gorgeous that Ed Asner contributes it to the actress’ “animal magnetism.”

This year marks the 45th anniversary of M*A*S*H, and at 79, Swit is as active now as she was then, currently touring the country with the release of her book SwitHeart: The Watercolour Artistry & Animal  Activism of Loretta Swit (Ultimate Symbol, $49)  as she prepares for her roles in the stage productions of Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks and Eleanor Roosevelt: Her Secret Journey.

SwitHeart chronicles the artwork of Swit, such a champion of the animal kingdom that she received the Betty Award Award–“for all she has done to protect and care for animals”–from Actors & Others for Animals on last month.  In September, she was awarded the 2016 Global Wildlife Conservation Champion Award by the GES Africa Conservation Fund for her support of animal conservation efforts, kindness, compassion and generosity.  Ask her and she’d probably agree such awards mean more to her than the two Emmys she won for her portrayal of Major Margaret “Hot Lips” Houlihan.

What many fans may not know about is that Swit has been an artist from age six. SwitHeart documents her animal portraits along with descriptive anecdotes about each and her extensive philanthropic work. “I’m thrilled to see my passion for animals and my passion for art merge in a book that will help benefit and protect the animals on our planet,” she coos.

Coos M*A*S*H star Alan Alda: ““Her pictures are created as much with her compassion and dedication as they are with her talent and artful vision.”

SwitHeart includes 65 full-color paintings and drawings, as well as 22 photographs.  Proceeds from the book will be donated to charities and programs that are as dedicated, as Swit is, to ending animal suffering and cruelty. Someone named Mies Hora is listed as “writer/editor”; the book must have been outsourced for printing since spelling of “watercolours” is so unAmerican.

Dr. Cate Shanahan, Director of the Los Angeles Lakers PRO Nutrition Program, shows how not to oil the body to better health

And we thought sugar was bad.

According to Cate Shanahan’s Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food (Flatiron Books, $27.99vegetable oil is slowly, but surely, eroding away our. Yikes! When Americans cut back on saturated fat, they added oils like soy and canola–and lots of them. We now eat nearly 2,000 times more soy oil that we did in 1909, with roughly 45% of all calories coming from refined oils. Whether it be canola, soy, corn or other oils, over the past half century, these highly processed industrial products have gradually taken over our diets without anyone really noticing.


Refining and heating degrades the molecules in ways that create toxins, which Dr. Cate Shanahan, the Director of the Los Angeles Lakers PRO Nutrition Program,  pinpoints as the No. 1 contributor to poor health in America.

Once a world-class athlete plagued by debilitating injuries, physician and biochemist Cate Shanahan was determined to cure her own ailments. So she researched the diets from around the world proven to help people live longer, healthier lives—diets like the Mediterranean, Okinawan, and The Blue Zones—and identified four common nutritional habits that for generations have unfailingly produced strong, healthy, intelligent children, and active, vital elders.

These four nutritional strategies form the basis of what Dr. Cate calls “The Human Diet”:

  • Fresh food
  • Fermented and sprouted foods
  • Meat cooked on the bone
  • Organ meats

Not all food is created equal. Real food contains ordered information that can direct our cellular growth in a positive way. Our family history does not determine our destiny. What you eat interacts with your DNA in ways that affect your health and the health of your future children.

By adhering to this Human Diet, Dr. Cate cured her own ailments and has since helped countless patients and readers of the original self-published edition of Deep Nutrition achieve their own optimum health.

Cutting through conflicting nutritional ideologies, the book combines science with common sense to illustrate how the traditions of our ancestors can help us all lead longer, healthier, more vital lives.

Catherine Shanahan, M.D. is a board certified family physician. She trained in biochemistry and genetics at Cornell University before attending Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. She practiced medicine in Hawaii for a decade, where she studied enthnobotany, as well as the culinary habits of her healthiest patients. She currently runs a metabolic health clinic in Denver, Colorado and serves as

Eight-legged horses, serpents and cosmic wolves: Welcome to “The Norse Myths”

Gods and goddesses; mighty heroes and indomitable women; dragons, serpents and cosmic wolves; the great World-Tree, inhabited by magical and monstrous creatures . . . .

The new Lucas or Spielberg film? Hardly. These are Norse myths, and they speak to us as vibrantly today as when they were told in Viking halls centuries ago. Originating in ancient Scandinavia and Iceland, they were recorded in sagas and poems, and in the (less approving) accounts of medieval Christian writers. Archaeology also gives us tantalizing depictions of Viking ships, eight-legged horses, and titanic battles on runestones, metalwork and carvings. Sounds Greek to you?  Through The Norse Myths: A Guide to the Gods and Heroes (Thames & Hudson, $24.95), literature scholar Carolyne Larrington brings us vivid new translations from the Old Norse, and we meet the inhabitants of this rich mythological cosmos face to face. The book is an exhilarating introduction to the vivid, violent, boisterous world of the Norse myths and their cultural legacy—from Tolkien to Game of Thrones.

Beginning with an account of the Norse myths’ origins and survival, The Norse Myths continues by introducing the principal gods and goddesses—Óṍinn (Odin), Loki, Þórr (Thor), Freyja, Heimdallr and the rest—before examining the gods’ powerful adversaries, the giants of ice and fire. According to the Norse creation myths, the world was born, and continued, in violence; two chapters are devoted to the (mis)adventures of the men and women of heroic legend and their sometimes unsettling conceptions of heroism and sacrifice. The last chapter is, fittingly, dedicated to ragnarök—the final conflict in which most of the gods will die and the world come to an end, with a hint at the possibility of rebirth.

The book offers fresh retellings of the vivid, often funny, almost always bloodthirsty tales of the Norse gods and heroes, and a satisfying exploration of their meaning and significance, past and present. The old stories have found new life in the work of Wagner, William Morris and J.R.R. Tolkien, and even in the reimagining of the fimbulvetr, or “Mighty Winter,” in Game of Thrones. And the 102 illustrations are an extra treat!