5 Most Popular Posts: December 2022
- January 3, 2023
We love every piece we run. There are no winners or losers. But all kidding aside, here are December’s winners.
- Gretchen Lida’s review of Mothertrucker: Finding Joy on the Loneliest Road in America by Amy Butcher (Little A). “On the surface, Joy and Butcher don't have much in common. Butcher is an English professor and writer in Ohio; Joy is the only female truck driver on Alaska’s Dalton Highway, the most dangerous road in the U.S. As I read, I braced myself for a feel-good Cheryl Strayed knockoff, complete with parables about ‘reaching across the aisle’ to make friends with those different from ourselves. It might make for an excellent nightly escape, but the deepest thing I expected to find in the book was the permafrost. Instead, what I found was a meditation on what it means to be a woman in this country and a master class in the power of brutally honest writing.”
- Charles Caramello’s review of Play All Night!: Duane Allman and the Journey to Fillmore East by Bob Beatty (University Press of Florida). “Beatty first tracks Duane through his apprenticeship with cover bands on the Southern circuit; his journeyman work with his band Hour Glass; his return to the South after a rough year in California; and his creation of the Allman Brothers Band. Beatty then tracks ABB through two years of fruitful touring and two studio albums (critical successes but commercial failures), to the seminal gig at Fillmore East and Duane’s death, on its heels, in a motorcycle accident. An epilogue traces ABB from its peak in the early 1970s through a low point in the 1980s and revival in 1989, to a second peak, with a fine new line-up, from 2001 to 2014.”
- Paula Tarnapol Whitacre’s review of The Last King of America: The Misunderstood Reign of George III by Andrew Roberts (Viking). “Historian Andrew Roberts urges us not to think of actor Jonathan Groff’s exaggerated portrayal of George III in the musical ‘Hamilton’ when judging the monarch who was, indeed, America’s last king. Of course, given that warning, anyone who has seen the production immediately conjures up a silly, sputtering ruler who embodied all that our Founding Fathers revolted against. Aided by the opening of the Georgian Papers in Britain’s Royal Archives, Roberts states a primary aim of his massive and meticulous The Last King of America is to dispel this image for American readers. He depicts instead a thoughtful, serious ruler who, as the subtitle suggests, was misunderstood not only by his former subjects in the colonies, but also by just about everyone else around him.”
- James A. Percoco’s review of Black Snow: Curtis LeMay, the Firebombing of Tokyo, and the Road to the Atomic Bomb by James M. Scott (W.W. Norton & Company). “On the night of March 9-10, 1945, the skies over Tokyo glistened from the aluminum fuselages of nearly 300 American B-29 Superfortresses, the single most expensive aircraft developed during World War II. Inside the bellies of the hulking planes were hundreds of incendiary bombs designed to destroy the city’s population centers. Tokyo’s civilian building infrastructure comprised mostly wood and paper homes. It was a tinderbox. The architect of the mission was 38-year-old Brigadier General Curtis LeMay, who said of the raid, ‘If we lose the war, we’ll be tried as war criminals.’”
- K.L. Romo’s review of Women Talking: A Novel by Miriam Toews (Bloomsbury Publishing). “Women Talking is based on the true story of a Mennonite colony in Bolivia, where, from 2005 to 2009, hundreds of women young and old were routinely drugged with animal anesthetic spray and raped. They awoke to pain, bruises, and bleeding. A ‘group of eight’ men had violated almost every female member of the colony. Author Miriam Toews’ unique narrative takes readers through the thought processes of these women, who will not be coerced into feigning forgiveness for the sins against their families. Instead, they consider both the physical and spiritual consequences of their options as the clock ticks down to the men’s return, reaching a courageous decision that will change their lives forever.”
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