Friday, March 31, 2006

Schama's Slaves, Clemente, Boston Strangler, Huey: April Books

Schama's Slaves, Clemente, Boston Strangler, Huey: April Books

March 31 (Bloomberg) -- Simon Schama, Stephen Kinzer and Edward Kennedy keep company among April's new books with the Boston Strangler, Huey Long, Caravaggio and a bunch of fundamentalists in a futuristic America.


``Kingfish: The Reign of Huey P. Long'' by Richard White (Random House). The colorful Long (governor of Louisiana from 1928 to 1930, then senator for five years until he was mysteriously gunned down by a doctor he didn't know) rigged elections, intimidated rivals and called for redistribution of wealth. He still has his fans and probably would get elected today.

``Revolutionary Wealth: How It Will Be Created and How It Will Change Our Lives'' by Alvin Toffler and Heidi Toffler (Knopf). The authors of ``Future Shock'' look forward to ``zeptoseconds'' and ``prosumers'' -- consumers who produce what they need.

``31 Days: The Crisis That Gave Us the Government We Have Today'' by Barry Werth (Doubleday). Not the Florida hanging chad and Supreme Court farce, but the tumultuous period between Richard Nixon's resignation on August 9, 1974, and Gerald Ford's pardon 31 days later.

``A Death in Belmont'' by Sebastian Junger (Norton). The author of ``The Perfect Storm'' takes on the Boston Strangler, who briefly worked in Junger's home in 1963 and even had his picture taken with baby Sebastian and his mom.

``Fast Boat to China: Corporate Flight and the Consequences of Free Trade -- Lessons from Shanghai'' by Andrew Ross (Pantheon). When Ross went to China to investigate outsourcing, he discovered the place was chaotic yet poised to become even more competitive. One consolation: Ross finds most Chinese workers are just as miserable as the average U.S. cube dweller.

``America Back on Track'' by Edward Kennedy (Viking). The senator advocates re-establishing ``a sound energy conservation policy'' and refocusing government spending on education and health care, instead of warfare.

``The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals'' by Michael Pollan (Penguin). The bestselling author of ``The Botany of Desire'' walks into a supermarket and wonders where all the stuff comes from. Curiously, he finishes his often unnerving investigation without turning vegetarian.

``Bad Faith: A Forgotten History of Family and Fatherland'' by Carmen Callil (Cape). Virago founder Callil goes in search of Louis Darquier de Pellepoix, the Vichy government's commissioner for Jewish affairs, a collaborator who was personally responsible for the deportation of thousands of French Jews.

``Clemente: The Passion and Grace of Baseball's Last Hero'' by David Maraniss (Simon & Schuster). Maraniss has written a sturdy ode to Pittsburgh Pirate Roberto Clemente, the first Latino to enter Cooperstown. He died on New Year's Eve 1972 while delivering aid to Nicaraguan earthquake victims.

``Wall Street Versus America: The Rampant Greed and Dishonesty That Imperil Your Investments'' by Gary Weiss (Portfolio). Former Business Week reporter Weiss sees malfeasance at all levels of the investment chain, from the cold-calling boiler room operators to fee-charging blue chip fund managers.

``Sweet and Low: A Family Story'' by Rich Cohen (Farrar, Straus & Giroux). The author is the disinherited grandson of the short-order cook who created the single-serving sugar packet and later invented Sweet'N Low. Using court documents and oral history, Cohen recounts the bittersweet tale of how his family's Brooklyn business went global, nearly went bust, and slowly tore the family apart.

``Dark Ages America: The Final Phase of Empire'' by Morris Berman (Norton). Berman says the U.S. economy can't help collapsing beneath mounting debt and expensive wars. Meanwhile, suburban consumers are guided to their own demise by a ``seamless propaganda machine'' run by soulless corporations.

``An Ordinary Man: An Autobiography'' by Paul Rusesabagina. (Viking): The hero of the movie ``Hotel Rwanda,'' who sheltered more than 1,200 Tutsis and Hutus in his hotel during the 1994 Rwanda genocide.

``Overthrow: America's Century of Regime Change From Hawaii to Iraq'' by Stephen Kinzer (Times Books). How many governments has the United States overthrown? The answer is 14, writes New York Times foreign correspondent Kinzer, in this critical survey of strong-arm American diplomacy. Hawaii was the first; Iraq the last (for now, anyway).

``Rough Crossings: Britain, the Slaves, and the American Revolution'' by Simon Schama (Ecco). If you were black during the Revolutionary War, which side would you want to win? Schama reveals that tens of thousands of slaves and freedmen supported the British, who offered emancipation if they fought against the Americans. Some were recaptured, some escaped to Nova Scotia, while others fled to Sierra Leone.

``Guests of the Ayatollah: The First Battle in America's War With Militant Islam'' by Mark Bowden (Atlantic). The author of ``Black Hawk Down'' reconstructs the harrowing 444 days, starting on Nov. 4, 1979, when 52 Americans were held hostage in the U.S. embassy in Tehran, Iran. Bowden explains events from the point of view of the Iranians, Americans and diplomats caught up in the long showdown.


``The Other Side of You'' by Salley Vickers (Fourth Estate). The former psychoanalyst and author of ``Miss Garnet's Angel'' writes about a psychiatrist and his patient, a failed suicide who shares his unusual fascination with death. Set partly in Rome, it also casts a painting by Caravaggio in a key role.

``Challenger Park'' by Stephen Harrigan (Knopf). Space Shuttle astronaut Lucy Kincheloe is floating 240 miles above Earth and traveling 17,500 miles an hour when she learns that the troubles she left behind in Houston, including a sick child and disintegrating marriage, are minor compared with what can go wrong in space.

``The Messiah of Morris Avenue'' by Tony Hendra (Holt). Hendra's latest features crusading journalist Johnny Greco who threatens the hegemony of a futuristic America ruled by right- wing fundamentalists by reporting on the second-coming of Christ in the guise of a lefty rebel named Jay.

``This Book Will Save Your Life'' by A.M. Homes (Viking). Richard Novak is a divorced day trader living in L.A. who learns his house is being swallowed by a giant sink hole. Meanwhile, the city must contend with earthquakes and feral Chihuahuas. A series of odd events lead Novak to reconciliation with both his ex-wife and estranged son.

``Elements of Style'' by Wendy Wasserstein (Knopf). The Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, who died in January, finished this ``Sex and the City''-style comedy of manners set in the moneyed milieu of New York's Upper East Side. The cast includes feuding philanthropists, an aging Oscar-winning film director and a kindly pediatrician.

``Black Swan Green'' by David Mitchell (Random House). The British author imagines one year in the life of 13-year-old Jason, living in Worcestershire, England, in 1982. It's far more accessible than his cryptic Booker Prize-nominated novels ``Cloud Atlas'' and ``Number9Dream.''

``The Sand Cafe'' by Neil MacFarquhar (PublicAffairs). The Cairo bureau chief of the New York Times has written a satire of reporting set in Saudi Arabia during the first Gulf War. Wire- service reporter Angus Dalziel must try to outwit and outlast better-paid and better-looking TV reporters -- remember the ``Scud Stud'' -- in pursuit of the story.

``Seeing'' by Jose Saramago (Harcourt). This new political fable from the Portuguese Nobel Prize-winner, a sequel to his 1997 novel ``Blindness,'' depicts a national election gone awry. When more than 70 percent of the votes are found blank, the befuddled authorities impose a state of emergency. Saramago may be master of the surreal, but his dense, page-long sentences don't make for easy reading.

``The Lightning Keeper'' by Starling Lawrence (HarperCollins). In Connecticut in 1914, Harriet Bigelow is trying to save her family's iron works from ruin, when a young Balkan inventor comes along and promises to revive her company and revolutionize production of electricity. Equal parts business saga and romance, Lawrence's second novel, a sequel to his first, ``Montenegro'' won praise from reclusive writer Harper Lee.