Turn back the clock a century and a half to view politics, ethics, and crime from the perspective of the smoke-filled rooms of the 1860 Republican National Convention as Edward Achorn lets one witness the making of an unconventional president. One can also travel to the kitchen and dining rooms of the White House and see how food, drink, and hospitality have promoted diplomacy. Other reading suggestions look at the seamer side of international athletic competition and a true crime story that took place 40 years ago in our nation’s Cradle of Liberty. For fiction aficionados, there is a missing persons case that may have ties to a decade old triple murder.
“Burn Boston Burn: The Story of the Largest Arson Case in the History of the Country,” by Wayne M. Miller, Mike Clark (Illustrator), Paul A Christian (Foreword) (Wayne M. Miller)
About 40 years ago, Boston was the locale for the largest series of arsons in American history. Nearly every night Bean Town saw another major fire — intentionally set, according to Wayne M. Miller, a retired investigator for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). After the smoke had cleared, it was discovered that the conspirators behind the arsons consisted of nine men, including three Boston police officers and one Boston firefighter. City tax cuts and layoffs had prompted them to set the fires in Boston and surrounding communities. Over the course of two years, they were responsible for brazenly torching 264 buildings, resulting in injuries and millions of dollars in damages. Miller worked this case for three years before eventually breaking it with the assistance of a TV cameraman. (Nonfiction)
“Dinner with the President: Food, Politics, and a History of Breaking Bread at the White House,” by Alex Prud'homme (Knopf)
Alex Prud’homme’s great aunt was none other than the late TV “French Chef” Julia Child, and his new book delves into the tastes of some of the most influential U.S. presidents and how what they ate and served — from Martha Washington’s preserved cherries to Joe Biden’s chocolate chip ice cream — influenced some major decisions. The book takes us into the White House kitchen and includes not just the tastes of the chief executives but also how notable first ladies, such as Jacqueline Kennedy and Dolly Madison, used food and state dinners to build and strengthen political ties. The book also contains 10 authentic recipes of favorite presidential dishes, including:
- Abraham Lincoln’s gingerbread men;
- William H. Taft’s Billy Bi mussel soup;
- Franklin D. Roosevelt’s reverse martini; and
- Lady Bird Johnson’s Pedernales River chili.
"[A] beautifully written book about how the presidential palate has helped shape America…Fascinating." Actor Stanley Tucci (Nonfiction)
“The Lincoln Miracle: Inside the Republican Convention That Changed History,” by Edward Achorn (Atlantic Monthly Press)
This is a book that will have political junkies salivating. A Lincoln nomination at the 1860 Republican National Convention in Chicago was the longest of long shots. Honest Abe hadn’t held political office in a decade, and he lost his last two U.S. Senate bids. All the smart money was on William Seward, a powerful U.S. senator representing New York, with Salmon Chase and Edward Bates standing in the wings. Edward Achorn reveals how Lincoln employed an ingenious strategy to overcome all that throughout the course of the convention’s six days. He also reveals how Mary Todd Lincoln cast her own influence when her husband was offered the vice presidency in a proposed deal: “If you cannot have the first place,” she told Lincoln, “you shall not have the second.” Wrote Lisa Adams for Publishers Weekly, “The result is a dramatic and well-informed study of political sausage-making.” (Nonfiction)
“The Longest Race: Inside the Secret World of Abuse, Doping, and Deception on Nike's Elite Running Team,” by Kara Goucher with Mary Pilon (Gallery Books)
Olympian Kara Goucher exposes what goes on behind the scenes in the international sports world with her new memoir that became an instant New York Times bestseller.
Kara Goucher grew up with dreams of becoming an Olympic runner. So, when she was offered a slot on Nike’s team after college, followed up by an invitation to join its elite, secretive Nike Oregon Project, she thought her dreams had been fulfilled and her hard work had paid off. But behind all the medals and accolades was a “culture of abuse,” highlighted by pushing the limits of anti-doping rules, sexual assault, and corporate misogyny, all while being coached by long-distance running legend Alberto Salazar. The book gives new meaning to Nike’s motto, “Just Do It.” (Nonfiction)
“Those Empty Eyes,” by Charlie Donlea (Kensington)
On the fictional side is a chilling story of suspense with a surprise twist. Ten years ago Alexandra Quinlan was given the nickname “Empty Eyes” when, at age 17, she was led out of her family home in shock where she hid as her parents and younger brother was slaughtered by an intruder. Afterwards, she changed hername to Alex Armstrong, along with her appearance and backstory to escape tabloid writers and true crime fanatics. She began working as an investigator for a lawyer that had helped her in the past.
Her latest assignment takes her to a local university’s faculty, donors and fraternities, as well as links to her own family’s murder, as she helps exonerate a business major there, accused of his girlfriend’s disappearance. Wrote Marlene Stringer for Publisher’s Weekly, “This searing look at the legal system, entitlement, and exploitation is not to be missed.”
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