New Books Network

Randy Roberts, “Joe Louis: Hard Times Man” (Yale UP, 2010)
“I’m sure if it wasn’t for Joe Louis,” acknowledged Jackie Robinson, “the color line in baseball would not have been broken for another ten years.” To Muhammad Ali, Joe Louis was an inspiration and an idol. “I just give lip service to being the greatest,” said Ali in 1981, after... Read More
Jean H. Baker, “Margaret Sanger: A Life of Passion” (Hill and Wang, 2011)
Forty-five years after her death, the reproductive rights activist Margaret Sanger remains a polarizing figure. Conservatives attack her social liberalism while liberals shy away from her perceived advocacy of eugenics and her supposed socialist tendencies. Though she was a pivotal 20th century figure, Sanger’s own voice has been drowned out... Read More
Stacy Schiff, “Cleopatra: A Life” (Back Bay Books, 2011)
Aside from being aesthetically equated to Elizabeth Taylor, Cleopatra has not fared well in history. In her riveting biography Cleopatra: A Life (Back Bay Books, 2011), which is now out in paperback, Stacy Schiff establishes that this was primarily because Cleopatra’s story was penned by a crowd of Roman historians... Read More
Frank Wcislo, “Tales of Imperial Russia: The Life and Times of Sergei Witte, 1849-1915” (Oxford UP, 2011)
When it comes to Russia’s great reformers of the nineteenth century, Count Sergei Witte looms large. As a minster to both Alexander III and Nicholas II, Witte presided over some of the most important economic and political developments in the Old Regime’s last quarter century. As Finance Minister he oversaw... Read More
Kitty Kelley, “Oprah: A Biography” (Three Rivers Press, 2011)
When she emerged triumphant in a legal battle with the Texas beef industry, Oprah Winfrey took to the steps of the Amarillo court house and declared: “Free speech rocks!” She was likely a little less enthusiastic about the First Amendment following the publication of Kitty Kelley‘s unauthorized book Oprah: A... Read More
Ronald Reng, “A Life Too Short: The Tragedy of Robert Enke” (Yellow Jersey Press, 2011)
On November 10, 2009, Robert Enke stepped in front of an express train at a crossing in the German village of Eilvese. At age 32, Robert left behind a young family: he and his wife, Teresa, had just adopted a baby girl only six months earlier. And Robert was also... Read More
Charles J. Shields, “And So It Goes. Kurt Vonnegut, A Life” (Henry Holt, 2011)
The public image of Kurt Vonnegut is that of a crusty, irascible old man. Someone with whom one would want to drink, but never ever fall in love. The Vonnegut we meet in Charles J. Shields’s insightful new biography, And So It Goes. Kurt Vonnegut: A Life (Henry Holt, 2011),... Read More