Shelf Awareness for Thursday, September 13, 2018

Atria Books: The Silence in Her Eyes by Armando Lucas Correa

Labyrinth Road: Plan A by Deb Caletti

Harper Muse: Unsinkable by Jenni L. Walsh

Mariner Books: Everyone on This Train Is a Suspect by Benjamin Stevenson

S&s/ Marysue Rucci Books: The Storm We Made by Vanessa Chan

W by Wattpad Books: Night Shift by Annie Crown

Shadow Mountain: Under the Java Moon: A Novel of World War II by Heather B. Moore


The Ripped Bodice Bookstore Owners Ink Sony TV Deal

Leah (l.) and Bea Koch

Leah and Bea Koch, owners of the Ripped Bodice bookstore in Culver City, Calif., have signed a first look deal with Sony Pictures Television under which "they will develop projects based on their exclusive relationship with romance novel authors and writers," Variety reported.

"When we met Leah and Bea, who focus on voices of women and diversity, it was a no-brainer for us to make a deal with them," said Lauren Stein, executive v-p of drama development for Sony Pictures Television. "They have fantastic taste and a distinctive perspective on the romance genre. We are thrilled to have them in our family."

In response to a tweet from Sony TV co-president Chris Parnell ("So happy and proud to be in business with our new friends Leah and Bea of @TheRippedBodice to develop and produce new romance series!"), the Koch sisters tweeted: "We are so grateful to Chris and the whole team at Sony for offering us a seat at the table. We are so excited to help develop the romance projects we want to see on our screens!"

The Ripped Bodice, which opened in 2016, was the recipient of the 2017 Romance Writers of America Bookseller of the Year Award. The owners released their inaugural State of Diversity in Romance Publishing Report in 2017 and a second survey earlier this year.

Flatiron Books: Anita de Monte Laughs Last by Xochitl Gonzalez

Mark Tauber Joining Chronicle, Heading Own Imprint

Mark Tauber

Mark Tauber, who was senior v-p and publisher of HarperOne from 2005 to 2017, has joined Chronicle Books, where he will be managing director of a new publishing imprint. As yet unnamed, the imprint will launch in fall 2019 and publish six to eight titles a season focusing on narrative and inspirational nonfiction in subjects ranging from health, wellness and lifestyle to creative business, sports, memoir and reference.

Chronicle president Tyrrell Mahoney said that Tauber's "extensive publishing acumen and deep experience identifying talent and cultivating bestsellers will enable us to publish an even wider range of content to complement our already exceptional book and gift program and serve our mission to spark the passions and interests of our loyal customers around the world."

Tauber added: "I have been a great fan [of Chronicle], a devoted consumer, and a happy neighbor here in San Francisco for many years. I look forward to building this new imprint and working with the smart, creative Chronicle Books team as I blend my own experience with their high‐quality, high‐impact, award‐winning, and distinguished tradition of success. And I can hardly wait to jump back in again working with all my agent and industry colleagues to discover, develop, and publish leading, authentic, and enduring authors and projects."

At HarperOne, Tauber published such authors as Paulo Coelho, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Barbara Brown Taylor, Dr. Joel Fuhrman, Johnny Cash, Marianne Williamson, Rob Bell and Sally Quinn. His most recent bestseller there was The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck.

Britannica Books: Britannica's Encyclopedia Infographica: 1,000s of Facts & Figures--About Earth, Space, Animals, the Body, Technology & More--Revealed in Pictures by Valentina D'Efilippo, Andrew Pettie, and Conrad Quilty-Harper

James Johnston Named CFO of Penguin Random House

James Johnston

James Johnston has been named chief financial officer of Penguin Random House, both in the U.S. and globally. He has been with the company for 28 years, for much of the time in finance at Knopf Publishing Group, where his most recent position was director, business operations. He then moved to the corporate finance team and held several positions and was deputy CFO since 2015.

CEO Markus Dohle commented in part: "Jim understands inside and out how our company ticks and works, and he consistently demonstrates a considered pragmatism, natural calm, and genuine enthusiasm for our publishing efforts. Through his astute analysis and insights, Jim plays a key role supporting our decisions regarding content acquisitions, sales, and publishing operations. Jim's leadership on our finance team and across the company has been characterized as solutions-minded, collaborative, and service-oriented. He is not only a dependable adviser to me and to our CEOs and CFOs around the world, but also to our publishers and business managers--and to our shareholders."

Johnston replaces Milena Alberti, who left the company at the end of 2017. Johnston had been heading the finance group since then.

GLOW: Carolrhoda Books: Pangu's Shadow by Karen Bao

I Am Books to Host IDEA Boston Festival

I Am Books, the Italian-American bookstore in Boston, Mass., is launching a two-day book festival called IDEA Boston this fall. Scheduled to run November 2-3, the Italian-inspired festival will feature 24 events and more than 50 speakers, including Michael Reynolds, editor-in-chief of Europa Editions; Mary Ann Esposito, host of Ciao Italia and children's writer and illustrator Tomie dePaola.

"IDEA Boston represents what we do at the bookstore day in and day out," said Nicola Orichua, a journalist and co-founder of I Am Books. "We offer culture through our books but also organize events on a weekly basis. We thought it was time to create a bigger event where we could highlight some of the best authors and most inspiring topics we came across over the years."

The festival will take place at the Dante Alighieri building in Cambridge, Mass., located near Kendall Square and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

According to Orichuia, the Festival of Italian Literature in London, which will run this year October 27-28, was the inspiration for IDEA Boston. He explained: "Our hope is to create a network of Italian-inspired cultural festivals that will keep growing with time."

Soho Crime: My Favorite Scar by Nicolás Ferraro, translated by Mallory Craig-Kuhn

Indie Booksellers Prep for Hurricane Florence

As Hurricane Florence continues to bear down on the Southeast, indie bookstores in the region are prepping for severe weather. We'll continue to keep tabs on the storm's further developments and impact. Here's a sampling from early social media updates:

Downtown Books hurricane prep

North Carolina
Downtown Books, Manteo & Duck's Cottage Books, Duck: "As Florence approaches, we will do our best to keep our loyal customers and social media fans abreast of all updates.... We usually say 'follow the fun' but this time we'll say 'follow the storm!' and will post as often as we can... thanks for all you support and best wishes as we get ready to ride out another one!" And: 'The books are high and hopefully will stay dry..."

Page 158 Books, Wake Forest: "Hopefully you have all the bread you need to ride out the coming storm, don't forget entertainment!"

Quarter Moon Books & Gifts, Topsail Beach: "All packed up and prepared (I hope) for hurricane Florence! Socks is NOT happy to relocate to my house."

Island Bookstore OBX, Outer Banks: "It's stock-up time!"

Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill: "Hi folks, due to the severity of the weather, all events Wednesday to Sunday have been either cancelled or rescheduled for a later (drier) date. As of now, the shop will remain open as long as it makes sense, so please stay tuned to our website & social media for any further updates. We'll likely close as things intensify. Please stay safe & prep as necessary!"

Page After Page Bookstore, Elizabeth City: "There is beauty in all things... except you Florence! So peeps, we are closing today at 6PM and will reopen when the storm clears. We have the very best flashlights by NEBO and hall, closet, etc lights. And the best books, toys, hurricane puzzles ever! Stop in if you can! We wish you all well & Be safe!!"

Read With Me, A Children's Book & Art Shop, Raleigh: "Heads up that we will be open today & Wednesday but Thursday we will close early to prep the store for this beast of a storm. Bookstore + water = super bad."

A suitable display at Quail Ridge Books

Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh: "We hope you've been able to gather all the supplies you'll need to stay safe during Florence. If you've got little ones at home, here are some good books for learning about these storms and how they affect people. Make sure to swing by soon; we will be closed starting Thursday afternoon until it's safe to return."

Diana's Books and More, Elkin: "Get blown away with super savings instead of a hurricane!! Come by land, sea or air and claim your deals today!!"

Sunrise Books, High Point: "#ifthepowergoesout #kids #hurricaneplans #justsaying"

The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines: "Now that the grocery stores are out of water.... stock up on some Lo-Fi entertainment with our great books, games and puzzles! We will be ready for you Florence!"

Two Sisters wants everyone to know store cat Katie is safe.

Two Sisters Bookery, Wilmington: "We will be open today until Susan and I have finished our hurricane preparations and anticipate being closed the remainder of the week. For the Katie Fan Club, she will be in safe hands and return to the store when we reopen. We are praying for all of those in the path of Florence. Be safe and we'll see you on the other side." And: "Y'all... Alexandra Wilson gave us a shout out on The Weather Channel!!! And by 'us,' I really mean KATIE. I thought her ginormous fan club would love to see this. Katie is currently in my home and at my feet."

South Carolina
Buxton Books, Charleston: "We have packed up, tarped and sandbagged! The store will be closed 9/12- 9/14. We will reopen as soon as the coast is clear! Prayers for everyone's safety."

Litchfield Books, Pawleys Island: "We will be closed until Florence leaves the area. Our customers and all of our bookstore families are in our thoughts. Be safe! See you soon!"

My Sister's Books, Pawleys Island: "The Boarding Up Has Begun, So we will Close at 1. Once you have Prepped and are in a Safe Spot, Share with us the Books you've got."

The Storybook Shoppe, Bluffton: Tuesday: "Due to the Mandatory evacuation The Storybook Shoppe will be closed. Stay safe!" And Wednesday: "We are a bit of a mess but we are OPEN for Business #florencegoaway."

Book No Further, Roanoke: "Help us get ready for the crazy rain. All books ON THE FLOOR are half priced! Plus I have a couple of boxes of beat up paper backs in the back room I'll make you a deal on."

Sundial Books, Chincoteague:  "Sundial Books will be closed Tuesday. This is our regular day off. After that, we will be closed until further notice due to Hurricane Florence. We hope that everyone takes appropriate measures to stay safe and well. We will see all of you when this storm has passed."


Image of the Day: Nothing to Fear at Open Book

In a window display epitomizing what owner Lynn Rosen called "our Philly-flavored brand of humor," Open Book Bookstore, Elkins Park, Pa., found an amusing juxtaposition involving two hot books (at least in the Philadelphia area): Fearless: How an Underdog Becomes a Champion (Hachette Books) by Doug Pederson, head coach of the Super Bowl-winning Philadelphia Eagles, and Bob Woodward's Fear: Trump in the White House, which went on sale Tuesday.

Simon & Schuster said yesterday that it had sold 750,000 copies of Fear in print, digital and audio on its first day of sale and has gone back to press for another 150,000 copies, bringing the in-print total to 1.15 million. In addition, Barnes & Noble said Fear is its top seller in stores and online, and has had faster sales than any adult title since Harper Lee's Go Set a Watchman in 2015.

Let's Play Books!, Emmaus, Pa., Celebrates Grand Re-Opening

Congratulations to Let's Play Books!, Emmaus, Pa., which is officially celebrating its three-year transformation from a children's bookstore to a store that carries a significant amount of adult titles with a "grand re-opening" this Saturday, September 15.

Among the changes at Let's Play Books!:

The adult section comprises about 35% of the store's shelf space, up from 10%. The YA section is on the first floor, along with a section for local authors that has grown rapidly, particularly following the change in management of the nearby Moravian Bookshop.

The second floor is now home to a Ju-Ju Monkey baby/toddler room, the Mariann Dana Younger Children's Room and a Middle Grade room. In addition, the third-floor Cattic, where author visits, birthday parties, summer camp sessions and youth book clubs take place, has been spruced up.

Owner Kirsten Hess commented: "The changes at Let's Play Books are aimed at expanding what we offer adults while improving products and services for children, historically our core mission. As a growing general-interest independent bookstore in the Lehigh Valley, we felt the need to increase our services to the community. We will continue to offer book fairs in area schools, fundraising events for local organizations and our Authors-to-Schools program. At Let's Play Books Bookstore, we strive to engage children and adults in the wonderful world of books, providing never-ending opportunities to stir one's imagination and creativity, to enhance one's understanding of our world. We are committed to promoting the values of knowledge, compassion, and social justice, all of which to serve to make our community a better place to live and work."

Gay's the Word One of '50 Most Iconic Places in London'

"Looking for London's most iconic cultural hotspots?" asked TimeOut in showcasing "the 50 best cultural spots, venues, museums, theatres, parks, pubs and markets that make the city what it is today."

TimeOut's list included Gay's the Word bookshop in Bloomsbury, noting: "When it first opened in 1979, Gay's the Word was the U.K.'s first shop dedicated to gay and lesbian books. Since then it's stocked everything from erotic fiction to queer theory, but it's the activism born here that has really left a mark on London. It was the meeting place for Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners during the strikes of the '80s and it's still a thriving hub for LGBT+ meet-ups--but the community have had to fight to keep things that way. In 1984 the shop's directors were charged with conspiracy to import indecent books. The public rallied around the bookshop, raising a £55,000 defense fund. Donations also piled in when a brick was thrown through the window this year. Thank God this grassroots fighter is still going strong."

Personnel Changes at BookBar

At BookBar, Denver, Colo.:

Abbey Paxton has been promoted to buyer/inventory manager. She has worked at the store for four years, with responsibilities that included children's programming and buying, event coordination, and managing--all while earning an MA in creative writing from Regis University.

Erin Mazza has been promoted to book manager from assistant manager. Before joining the BookBar staff two years ago, she worked at Boulder Book Store.

Kateri Kramer has joined BookBar as marketing & events manager. She worked at the store last year and has completed an MFA at Regis University. She has four years of marketing and event management experience.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: John Kerry on Real Time with Bill Maher

HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher: John Kerry, author of Every Day Is Extra (Simon & Schuster, $35, 9781501178955).

This Weekend on Book TV: The Brooklyn Book Festival

Congratulations to Book TV on its 20th anniversary!

Book TV airs on C-Span 2 this weekend from 8 a.m. Saturday to 8 a.m. Monday and focuses on political and historical books as well as the book industry. The following are highlights for this coming weekend. For more information, go to Book TV's website.

Saturday, September 15
6:45 p.m. Steve Coll, author of Directorate S: The C.I.A. and America's Secret Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan (Penguin Press, $35, 9781594204586), at the National Book Festival in Washington, D.C.

7:45 p.m. Jeanine Pirro, author of Liars, Leakers, and Liberals: The Case Against the Anti-Trump Conspiracy (Center Street, $27, 9781546083429). (Re-airs Sunday at 10:50 p.m.)

8:50 p.m. Steven Johnson, author of Farsighted: How We Make the Decisions That Matter the Most (Riverhead, $28, 9781594488214), at Politics & Prose Bookstore in Washington, D.C.

10 p.m. Derek Hunter, author of Outrage, Inc.: How the Liberal Mob Ruined Science, Journalism, and Hollywood (Broadside Books, $27.99, 9780062835529). (Re-airs Sunday at 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. and Monday at 12 a.m.)

11 p.m. Eboo Patel, author of Out of Many Faiths: Religious Diversity and the American Promise (Princeton University Press, $27.95, 9780691182728). (Re-airs Sunday at 7 p.m.)

Sunday, September 16
10 a.m. Coverage of the 2018 Brooklyn Book Festival in New York City. (Re-airs Monday at 1 a.m.)

10 p.m. Lisa Margonelli, author of Underbug: An Obsessive Tale of Termites and Technology (Scientific American/FSG, $27, 9780374282073), at Politics & Prose Bookstore in Washington, D.C.

Books & Authors

Awards: NBA for Young People's Literature, Translated Literature

The longlists for the 2018 National Book Awards for Young People's Literature and Translated Literature consist of:

Young People's Literature
The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo (HarperTeen)
The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge by M.T. Anderson and Eugene Yelchin (Candlewick Press)
We'll Fly Away by Bryan Bliss (Greenwillow Books)
The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle by Leslie Connor (Katherine Tegen Books)
The Journey of Little Charlie by Christopher Paul Curtis (Scholastic Press)
Hey, Kiddo by Jarrett J. Krosoczka (Graphix/Scholastic)
A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi (HarperTeen)
Blood Water Paint by Joy McCullough (Dutton Children's Books)
Boots on the Ground: America's War in Vietnam by Elizabeth Partridge (Viking Children's Books)
What the Night Sings by Vesper Stamper (Knopf Books for Young Readers)

Translated Literature
Disoriental by Négar Djavadi, translated by Tina Kover (Europa Editions)
Comemadre by Roque Larraquy, translated by Heather Cleary (Coffee House Press)
The Beekeeper: Rescuing the Stolen Women of Iraq by Dunya Mikhail, translated by Max Weiss & Dunya Mikhail (New Directions)
One Part Woman by Perumal Murugan, translated by Aniruddhan Vasudevan (Black Cat/Grove Atlantic)
Love by Hanne Ørstavik, translated by Martin Aitken (Archipelago Books)
Wait, Blink: A Perfect Picture of Inner Life by Gunnhild Øyehaug, translated by Kari Dickson (FSG)
Trick by Domenico Starnone, translated by Jhumpa Lahiri (Europa Editions)
The Emissary by Yoko Tawada, translated by Margaret Mitsutani (New Directions)
Flights by Olga Tokarczuk, translated by Jennifer Croft (Riverhead)
Aetherial Worlds by Tatyana Tolstaya, translated by Anya Migdal (Knopf)

The shortlists will be announced in October. Winners will be announced at the National Book Awards Ceremony and Benefit Dinner on November 14 in New York City.

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, September 18:

Lethal White by Robert Galbraith (Mulholland Books, $29, 9780316422734) is the latest Cormoran Strike mystery by J.K. Rowling.

Leadership: In Turbulent Times by Doris Kearns Goodwin (Simon & Schuster, $30, 9781476795928) explores the leadership qualities of Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lyndon B. Johnson.

Sea Prayer by Khaled Hosseini (Riverhead, $15, 9780525539094) is a short, illustrated work for all ages about the refugee crisis.

Whiskey in a Teacup: What Growing Up in the South Taught Me About Life, Love, and Baking Biscuits by Reese Witherspoon (Touchstone, $35, 9781501166273) is the memoir of the actress who grew up in Tennessee.

The Escape Artists: A Band of Daredevil Pilots and the Greatest Prison Break of the Great War by Neal Bascomb (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $28, 9780544937116) chronicles a massive escape attempt by British POWs held in Germany in World War I.

Basketball: A Love Story by Jackie MacMullan and Rafe Bartholomew (Crown Archetype, $30, 9781524761783) is an oral history about basketball.

Time's Convert: A Novel by Deborah Harkness (Viking, $29, 9780399564512) follows a prospective vampire during the American Revolution and in modern day Paris.

Washington Black by Esi Edugyan (Knopf, $26.95, 9780525521426) is about a slave in Barbados made manservant to an abolitionist master.

Pride by Ibi Zoboi (Balzer+Bray, $17.99, 9780062564047) is a young adult reinterpretation of Pride and Prejudice.

Unbroken: 13 Stories Starring Disabled Teens edited by Marieke Nijkamp (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $17.99, 9780374306502) features short stories with disabled main characters.

Cravings: Hungry for More by Chrissy Teigen and Adeena Sussman (Clarkson Potter, $29.99, 9781524759728) is the latest cookbook from a celebrity chef.

Road Map for Revolutionaries: Resistance, Activism, and Advocacy for All by Elisa Camahort Page and Carolyn Gerin (Ten Speed Press, $16.99, 9780399581649).

The Lost Carousel of Provence by Juliet Blackwell (Berkley, $15, 9780451490636).

Why Not Tonight by Susan Mallery (HQN, $8.99, 9781335474605).

Made Out of Stars: A Journal for Self-Realization by Meera Lee Patel (TarcherPerigee, $16, 9780143131588).

The House with a Clock in Its Walls, based on the 1973 children's mystery by John Bellairs, opens September 21. Jack Black, Cate Blanchett and Owen Vaccaro star in the story of an orphan who must help his magic uncle find a hidden clock.

The Sisters Brothers, based on the novel by Patrick deWitt, opens September 21. John C. Reilly and Joaquin Phoenix star as a pair of sibling assassins in 1850s Oregon. A movie tie-in edition (Ecco, $16.99, 9780062893574) is available.

IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

From last week's Indie bestseller lists, available at, here are the recommended titles, which are also Indie Next Great Reads:

The Third Hotel: A Novel by Laura van den Berg (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $26, 9780374168353). "Laura van den Berg's The Third Hotel is sublime and unsettling, haunting and sophisticated. The Havana that serves as the backdrop for this story is as surreal, soaked in perspiration, and capitulated to ruin as the sense of loss that drives the novel. This is one not to be missed. A mesmerizing masterwork." --David Gonzalez, Skylight Books, Los Angeles, Calif.

The Family Tabor: A Novel by Cherise Wolas (Flatiron, $27.99, 9781250081452). "When you have the most skillfully prepared, decadent dessert placed in front of you, do you plunge in and devour it? Or do you slowly savor it? This is the happy predicament I find myself in when approaching the work of Cherise Wolas. Harry Tabor, a 70-year-old Jewish man living in Palm Springs, is about to receive the 'Man of the Decade' award for a lifetime of service to refugees. His beautiful, interesting, and seemingly perfect family is congregating to celebrate. In the span of less than two days, the story of their lives unravels and revelations occur. This brilliantly executed novel is filled with secrets, repressed memories, and unforgettable characters under a blazing California sun." --Damita Nocton, The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, N.C.

Ranger Games: A Story of Soldiers, Family and an Inexplicable Crime by Ben Blum (Anchor, $16.95, 9780804169691). "Ranger Games is a fascinating examination of family, duty, psychology, and crime. Ben Blum's cousin Alex wanted one thing in life, to be a U.S. Army Ranger, but after completing the program and right before his first deployment, he seemingly inexplicably wound up driving the getaway car for an armed bank robbery with three other Rangers. Blum digs deep into his cousin's story and the culture of the Rangers to find out why and how, and the result is a riveting, thought-provoking book." --Cody Morrison, Square Books, Oxford, Miss.

For Ages 4 to 8
The Rough Patch by Brian Lies (Greenwillow, $17.99, 9780062671271). "Evan has lost his faithful companion and nothing can help ease his pain, not even the garden where Evan and his dog enjoyed most of their time together. But something extraordinary is happening in that neglected garden--something that will help ease Evan's pain. The Rough Patch is a thoughtful and impressive picture book about friendship and loss. Brian Lies gives us a picture book that will pull at the heartstrings." --Jen Steele, Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee, Wis.

For Ages 9 to 12
Finding Langston by Lesa Cline-Ransome (Holiday House, $16.99, 9780823439607). "In this story of the Great Migration of 1946, 11-year-old Langston misses his mother, who has passed away; his grandmother, who was left behind; and his father, who has to work long hours. As Langston faces poverty and bullying in Chicago, he takes refuge in the library and discovers books and companionship, something that is life-affirming for both him and his father. Finding Langston is exactly the profound book of renewal we need right now." --Alice Hutchinson, Byrd's Books, Bethel, Conn.

For Teen Readers
A Thousand Beginnings and Endings, edited by Ellen Oh and Elsie Chapman (Greenwillow, $17.99, 9780062671158). "With A Thousand Beginnings and Endings, Ellen Oh and Elsie Chapman have edited a wonderful collection of short stories by some of the most prominent YA authors, exploring themes of East and South Asian folklore and mythology. Featuring 15 stories that cover every genre from contemporary to fantasy, readers will be delighted by the breadth and imagination of authors such as Preeti Chhibber, Melissa de la Cruz, and Cindy Pon."  --Angela Spring, Duende District, Washington, D.C.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Book Review

Review: Presidents of War

Presidents of War by Michael Beschloss (Crown, $35 hardcover, 752p., 9780307409607, October 9, 2018)

Harry Truman often cited James Polk among his favorite presidents because Polk "regularly told Congress to go to hell on foreign policy matters," writes Michael Beschloss in Presidents of War. Such bravado would have rattled the Founding Fathers, who intended that the power to declare war rest solely with Congress, rather than the president. However, Polk's stance during the Mexican War reflects the beginning of a transformative shift, one adopted by commanders-in-chief during the modern nuclear age.
Presidents of War traces the arc of this fundamental change by focusing on the approaches to war taken by Jefferson, Madison, Polk, Lincoln, McKinley, Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, Truman and Lyndon Johnson. Beschloss (The Crisis Years: Kennedy and Khrushchev, 1960-1963) expertly assesses and analyzes each leader's motivations, degree of honesty with the public, level of cooperation with Congress and treatment of civil liberties. As for Congress, Beschloss states that relinquishing the power to engage in war resulted in sending "an unintended message to later presidents that when they ask the House and Senate for war, those commanders-in-chief could be duplicitous, too."
Beschloss's strongest criticism is reserved for Polk, Truman and Johnson. Polk receives poor marks in the areas of motive, honesty and respect for Congress. According to Beschloss, Polk was derelict in his Constitutional duties by laying the precedent for his successors to push the war-making powers further toward the president. When Truman launched the Korean War, he failed to accurately communicate--to Congress or the public--how costly such a conflict would be. His refusal to ask Congress for advance approval to use military force and his neglect in seeking such backing even after the conflict began "undermined his ability to wage a war in Korea and established a dangerous precedent for future American presidents."
Of the three, Lyndon Johnson stands apart for his handling of the Vietnam War. From the beginning, the president suspected Vietnam was not winnable. Thus, not only did LBJ wage war, he did so without conviction: "No earlier Chief Executive... had pushed America to war with such pessimism." Beschloss examines the paradox of a president who had radically advanced progressive causes at home yet sent nearly 40,000 men to their deaths for a cause he knew was lost at the onset.
Beschloss's style is to present a complicated dynamic in a well-researched but easy-to-read monograph, and Presidents of War succeeds in this mission. He captures nearly 150 years in a single volume, from Jefferson's attempts to prevent war with France or England up to the Vietnam War, with brief discussion of the Gulf Wars. For each conflict, Beschloss provides an engaging look at how and why the dramatic pendulum swung, and of the leaders who helped change its--and the country's--direction. --William H. Firman Jr., presidential historian and writer
Shelf Talker: A thoughtful examination of how eight American presidents approached the prospect of war.

The Bestsellers

Top Book Club Picks in August

The following were the most popular book club books during August based on votes from book club readers in more than 48,000 book clubs registered at

1. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
2. Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover
3. Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate
4. Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
5. The Woman in the Window: A Novel by A.J. Finn
6. The Great Alone: A Novel by Kristin Hannah
7. The Alice Network: A Novel by Kate Quinn
8. Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
9. Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
10. Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann

Rising Stars:
Circe by Madeline Miller
The Power by Naomi Alderman

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