Our 5 Most Popular Posts: May 2023
- June 1, 2023
We love every piece we run. There are no winners or losers. But all kidding aside, here are May’s winners.
- Tom Glenn’s review of No Human Contact: Solitary Confinement, Maximum Security, and Two Inmates Who Changed the System by Pete Earley (Citadel Press). “Earley makes no attempt to prettify prison life. He describes matter-of-factly the ways in which the men around Silverstein and Fountain brutalized one another. Castration and rape were commonplace, as were murders. I came away with the feeling that men incarcerated for life but not subject to the death penalty are more inclined to kill than are those with the hope of release. (Turning snitch, which Silverstein and Fountain never did, was a good way for an inmate to get himself killed.)”
- Larry Matthews’ review of Because Our Fathers Lied: A Memoir of Truth and Family, from Vietnam to Today by Craig McNamara (Little, Brown and Company). “The Vietnam War’s official dates are 1961 to 1975. Vietnam, a former French colony, became the flashpoint of the Cold War during the 1960s. All told, the war cost over 58,000 American lives and, by many estimates, the lives of millions of Vietnamese. All for nothing. It was a classic case of throwing good money after bad, except that it was human lives. As the conflict escalated, Robert McNamara, as secretary of defense, knew the effort was futile yet continued to send U.S. soldiers to die in the jungles of Southeast Asia. For an entire generation of veterans, including me, it was unforgivable. And so it is for Craig McNamara, the secretary’s only son.”
- Peggy Kurkowski’s review of Cleopatra’s Daughter: From Roman Prisoner to African Queen by Jane Draycott (Liveright). “Sifting through the fragmentary archaeological and documentary evidence, Draycott attempts to reconstruct the ‘visible and invisible’ life of a woman who endured a series of reversals of fortune that upstaged even her renowned (and often reviled) mother. Born an Egyptian princess, Cleopatra Selene found herself on a trajectory that took her from the heights of royalty to the lows of imprisonment by Emperor Caesar Augustus (nee Octavian). Her resilience and wiles, however, eventually led to her rise again as a powerful ruler and ally of Rome.”
- Kitty Kelley’s review of King: A Life by Jonathan Eig (Farrar, Straus and Giroux). “In this biography, his sixth book, Eig writes like an Olympic diver who jackknifes off the high board, slicing the water without a ripple. He performs with sheer artistry, like Picasso paints and Astaire dances. In unspooling the life of King, Eig presents a complicated man who attempted suicide twice; who was plagued by clinical depression so deep it required hospitalization; who chewed his nails; and who gave up the ‘true love’ of his life, a white woman named Betty Moitz, because he realized, with her, he would never be accepted as a preacher in Black churches. The late Harry Belafonte, who himself married a white woman, told Eig that King never stopped talking about Moitz, and King’s mentor in graduate school described him after the break-up as ‘a man with a broken heart,’ adding, ‘he never recovered.’”
- Randy Cepuch’s review of Falling: A Novel by T.J. Newman (Avid Reader Press). “The unflappable Sully was everyone’s hero for his efforts, and no less than Tom Hanks played him in the 2016 movie ‘Miracle on the Hudson.’ Falling is surely destined to be a blockbuster, as well. Because it’s fiction, no one will be surprised to learn that someone other than a pilot (and who could never be mistaken for Sully, or even Hanks) ends up at the controls. You might stop breathing during the harrowing final approach, but first-time author Newman lands the story thoughtfully and confidently.”