Christmas Basket of Books: William Kuhn

  • December 18, 2012

We asked the author of Mrs. Queen Takes The Train to tell us about the books on his gift list.

by William Kuhn

What about the following for your Christmas Basket of Books?

To the person in your family who is a history buff, or is interested in the presidency, or the era of the First World War, I would give John Milton Cooper’s Woodrow Wilson: A Biography. It’s the new authoritative biography of Wilson and will not be outclassed in our lifetime.

For the fashionista or lover of style on your list I’d buy two new books on a former Vogue editor: Empress of Fashion: A Life of Diana Vreeland, by Amanda Mackenzie Stuart, and Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel, by Lisa Immordino Vreeland. The second of these two has already been made into a documentary film. Vreeland was the Anna Wintour of the 1960s. Imagine The Devil Wears Prada crossed with a weird film made by Andy Warhol and you arrive at her strange and wonderful sensibility.

For any person of any age who loves baseball, or for a young person who is in college at the moment, I’d recommend Chad Harbach’s The Art of Fielding. I don’t particularly understand baseball, but he made it riveting for me; and he has captured the life of a small liberal arts college (which I do understand) perfectly.

To understand the zany, madcap, and wise perspective of Newberry Medal winner, Jack Gantos, read Dead End in Norvelt, a fictional memoir of his childhood and adolescence. Listed as for “age 10 and up,” it is really a book that will delight adults as well.

William Kuhn is a biographer, historian, and novelist.  His most recent book is Mrs. Queen, a novel.


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