Sarah is a Marketing Manager at Viking, specializing in nonfiction. She lives in the Bronx and is obsessed with sketch comedy.
Just over one year after the Supreme Court decision to overturn Proposition 8, the two lawyers who argued for the plaintiffs offer an insightful and riveting look inside the inner workings of the case. Theirs is an unlikely pairing—one conservative, the other liberal, they argued against each another in Bush v. Gore—but they were able to put aside their political differences and join forces to fight for what they believed in, which is hard not to get inspired by.
This book achieves the trifecta of history, literature, and murder. By weaving together F. Scott Fitzgerald’s writing of The Great Gatsby with the unfolding criminal investigation of the 1922 Hall-Mills murder, Churchwell looks for clues as how to how aspects of the case—which was a major ongoing news story that year—may have made their way into Gatsby. It also details the Fitzgeralds’ lives in Great Neck and the fascinating characters they hobnobbed with, from newspapermen to bootleggers to criminal bosses. We of course have no way of confirming if Churchwell’s suspicions are true, but it’s fun to think about regardless.
Blood Aces, by Doug Swanson - On sale 8/14/14
This is the pulp-infused true story of Benny Binion, the Texas gangster and pioneering Las Vegas casino owner whose legacy can still be felt today (he founded the hugely successful World Series of Poker). As Dallas’s reigning mob boss, Binion could be brutal, yet he was fiercely protective of his family and philanthropic when it was to his advantage. Brimming with tales of the criminal underworld and Binion’s shrewd business practices, which often turned violent (he is quoted as having said “I ain’t never killed a man who didn’t deserve it”), this dark slice of Americana is compelling and vivid—you can almost smell the stale Camels and last night’s beer at Binion’s Horseshoe.
Counter to popular lore, this book argues that the majority of the fires ravaging parts of the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Manhattan in the ‘70s were caused by a faulty computer model. In the ‘60s Mayor Lindsay teamed up with a think tank called the RAND Corporation to develop a way to govern the city more efficiently and statistically, starting with the fire department. But their methods were deeply flawed, resulting in severely reduced service in the neighborhoods that needed it desperately. It was an aspect of New York City history I hadn’t been aware of—and I’ve read a lot of books on New York City history. With so much of our current world moving to statistical analysis to predict just about everything from customer buying habits to election outcomes to the nation’s best burrito, this seems especially relevant.
If you’re anything like me, you love reading about the culture of the ‘60s and ‘70s. Pictures at a Revolution profiles the five movies that were nominated for Best Picture of 1967, offering not just the stories of the making of each individual film, but a broader picture of Hollywood in the ‘60s and the overall culture and atmosphere of the era. In a year that marked a real turning point for American movies, not to mention the culture at large, the five nominees represent both the new and the old, the generational divide sharply on display. The book offers some fascinating on-set stories and priceless trivia—who knew that at one point Bonnie and Clyde was to be directed by Jean-Luc Godard, who wanted to cast Elliott Gould as Clyde Barrow? (I actually kind of wish that had happened.)
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