Shelf Awareness for Thursday, June 13, 2019


Sharjah Publishers Conference: October 27th-29th - Register Now!

Minotaur Books: The Woman in the Mirror by Rebecca James

Tor Books: The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune

DK: Free Pack of The Wonders of Nature Wrapping Paper - Click to Sign Up!

Bloomsbury Publishing: All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews

Other Press: Nvk by Temple Drake

Quotation of the Day

'Amazon Doesn't Play with My Kids'

British bookseller Rachael Rogan, owner of Rogan's Books in Bedford, "says that locals send her e-mails with a link to Amazon asking her to order a book. When she tells them they could buy it cheaper if they ordered it themselves, she says they tell her: 'Amazon doesn’t play with my kids; Amazon doesn’t bring authors to Bedford; Amazon doesn’t recommend books when my child is going through hell and needs something to lift them up.' "

--Stephen Moss in a Guardian piece headlined "Unputdownable! The bookshops Amazon couldn't kill"

G.P. Putnam's Sons: Firewatching by Russ Thomas


News

Canvasback Books Coming to Klamath Falls, Ore.

Anne Marie Kessler, a physician with a family practice in Klamath Falls, Ore., plans to bring a new bricks-and-mortar bookstore to the town within the year, the Herald & News reported. While Kessler has not yet found a location for Canvasback Books, she has already debuted her store as a pop-up shop at Klamath Falls' Saturday farmers market.

 

During her farmer's market appearances, Kessler carries a carefully curated selection of children's books and hosts three story time sessions throughout the day. Each week, Kessler chooses a different topic around which she builds her adult inventory. Her most recent appearance, for example, had an astronomy theme, and the week prior her adult books were all about gardening.

"It's a selection of books that promote early childhood literacy, developing emotional intelligence and building community connections," Kessler told the Herald & News, describing the children's books she carries.

When it comes to her store's future space, Kessler said she plans to have a "robust" children's section and a wide-ranging adult inventory with a focus on local authors and local interests. Kessler also intends to serve tea and have space in her store for customers to sit and relax.

Kessler added that she already received a lot of support from the community, saying: "There's a whole community of people that help each other with figuring out how to do this. It really is a passion of mine, and I view it as giving back to the community."


Arcadia Publishing: Stock Your Shelves!


Grand Opening Set for Better World Imaginarium in Md.

 

Better World Imaginarium, a new toy and bookstore at 924 Frederick Road in Catonsville, Md., will host its grand opening tomorrow with a ribbon cutting ceremony, free Rita's Italian Ice, balloon animals and crafts, the Baltimore Sun reported.

The shop, which opened May 18, features a selection of children's literature that "includes multicultural books, bilingual books, and engaging nonfiction about world regions and cultures. In addition to books published in the United States, we search for books published in languages other than English and by non-U.S. publishers."

Owner Lisa Swayhoover, who has a Ph.D. in international education policy, told the Sun she chose the shop's name because she holds the idea of global citizenship in high regard and believes in building a better world: "A lot of times we think 'global' is out there, but we interact with the global every day. We need to see how we relate to the rest of the world."

The books and toys for sale at Better World Imaginarium "focus not only on being fun and entertaining for children, but on promoting diversity, creativity, giving back to the community and learning about the world," the Sun wrote.

Teal Cary, executive director of the Greater Catonsville Chamber of Commerce, said, "We're always happy for more retail; we really want and need retail. The store is a great addition because there are so many young families in Catonsville."


Grove Press, Black Cat: Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo


For Sale: Aussie Indie Pages & Pages Booksellers

Looking for a bookselling adventure Down Under? Respected indie Pages & Pages Booksellers in Mosman, just north of Sydney, which was honored as Best Independent Bookshop at the 2014 Australian Book Industry Awards, may close at the end of August if a new owner is not found before then.

In 1995, Chris & Phil Page opened the bookshop in Belrose before moving to Mosman in 1999. The shop is currently run by Jon and Kate Page. In a Facebook post Monday, the Pages wrote: "It is with great pain and sadness that we announce that Pages & Pages Booksellers has decided not to renew its lease when it expires on September 30.... We have fought the rise and rise of online shopping and we met the challenge of e-books head on. We have adapted and innovated to all the changes that have occurred to bookshops over the last 25 years. However, we have weathered one storm too many and we have decided that now is the best time to wind the business down before it becomes too late to leave on our own terms. The retail recession, changing consumer behavior, rent costs, rising wages and business debt have all reached a point where we have decided that renewing our current lease is too risky a proposition.

"We would like to thank all of the wonderful and loyal customers over the years, many of whom we have literally seen grow up before our eyes. This has been on of the toughest decisions we have all had to make. We are going to miss recommending and sharing with you all the wonderful books we have read and loved. The bookshop is on the market for sale prior to closure on August 30 and we are open to all and any offers. Please send any enquiries to Phil Page (phil@pagesandpages.com.au 0422-127-401)."


Berkley Books: Happy and You Know It by Laura Hankin


Patterson, Follett Partnering on Childrens' Literacy Initiative

James Patterson at BookExpo last month.

Bestselling author James Patterson will partner with Follett and its "All Books for All Kids" initiative, which made its debut in 2018 at Follett Book Fairs, "with the goal of ensuring children have access to a wide range of books no matter their background." Authors from Patterson's children's imprint, JIMMY Patterson Books, will appear at Follett Book Fairs throughout the year.

"I'm honored to be partnering with Follett and its literacy initiative--the work it is doing in giving kids access to books is vital and something that I likewise care deeply about," Patterson said. "I truly believe that books change lives, and that better readers make better people and ultimately, better citizens. Getting--and keeping--our children reading is up to all of us.  And I'm happy to do whatever I can to further that cause."

Britten Follett, senior v-p of marketing, Follett School Solutions, commented: "We are truly honored to partner with James Patterson as part of our 'All Books for All Kids' initiative. We share the same goals about the importance of turning kids on to reading, and we are thrilled Mr. Patterson embraces our program to expose students to books they may not think about reading or have a chance to read."


Nimbus Publishing: Making a Life: Twenty-Five Years of Hooking Rugs by Deanne Fitzpatrick


Notes

Image of the Day: NCIBA, SCIBA Meeting

The executive committee from the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association traveled to Café con Libros Press bookstore in Pomona, Calif., on Tuesday to meet with the Southern California Independent Booksellers Association board. There, they discussed possibly merging the two associations as well as other options that might help them better serve their members. Following the meeting, member booksellers participated in a town hall discussion.

Pictured: (back row, l.-r.) Cecil Brown, Kinokuniya; Mark O'Neal, Karel/Dutton Group; Bridget Schinnerer, Vroman's Hastings Ranch; Ann Seaton, NCIBA; Michael Barnard, Rakestraw Books; Maryelizabeth Yturralde, Creating Conversations and Mysterious Galaxy; Carolyn Hutton, Mrs. Dalloway's Literary & Garden Arts; Robert Turner, Café con Libros Press; Calvin Crosby, NCIBA; (front row) Melinda Powers, Bookshop Santa Cruz; Jessica Palacios, Once Upon a Time, Andrea Vuleta, SCIBA; Nicole White, Penguin Young Readers.


Flame Tree Publishing: Detective Mysteries Short Stories by Various Authors


B&N's June Book Club Pick: Mrs. Everything

Barnes & Noble has chosen Mrs. Everything by Jennifer Weiner (Atria) as its June national book club selection. The novel will be the focus of a book club night at B&N stores around the country on Tuesday, July 16, at 7 p.m.

 

Liz Harwell, B&N's senior director of merchandising, trade books, said, "Bestselling author and New York Times columnist Jennifer Weiner has written a powerful novel that follows an American family across five tumultuous decades and is a perfect mix of powerful, poignant, and funny. Our Barnes & Noble Exclusive Edition, with an enlightening behind-the-scenes essay from Jennifer Weiner and reader's guide, gives Book Club attendees even more to think about and discuss."

For more information on the event, click here.


Cool Idea of the Day: Vroman's Time Capsule

Contest winners Alan Liao and Haydn Schlinger, with Joel Sheldon and Sherri Gallentine.
Vroman's Bookstore in Pasadena, Calif., last week held a ceremony to mark the burial of a time capsule in the wall of the store, at the spot where its new wine bar is under construction. Among the contributions were pennies stamped with the store's logo, added by Vroman's chair Joel Sheldon; a letter to future booksellers by head book buyer Sherri Gallentine; bookmark designs by the winners of the store's 2019 Kids Bookmark Contest; and a Polaroid commemorating the event, which was broadcast live on Vroman's Facebook page.

Assistant promotional director Gilbert Martinez said, "We look forward to the moment when these kids and their families, and former employees, can be here when Vroman's of 2069 digs up the capsule in celebration of another half a century serving Pasadena!"
 

Personnel Changes at Joseph-Beth

At Joseph-Beth, which has six locations in Kentucky and Ohio:

Tom Kruse has joined the bookseller as head of store sales and operations. He was most recently regional v-p at Francesca's and earlier was regional sales director for Lane Bryant.

Randy Egolf has joined Joseph-Beth as v-p of human resources. He was most recently senior leader of learning design and organizational development at Alliance Data Card Services.


Ingram Academic Services to Distribute Manchester University Press

Under a new agreement, Ingram Academic Services will provide distribution, sales and academic marketing services in the U.S., Canada, Latin America, and the Caribbean for Manchester University Press.

Founded in 1903, Manchester University Press, Manchester, England, focuses on books across the humanities and social sciences, with a flagship list in history, politics, art and literature. It publishes more than 200 books a year, 10 digital collections and seven journals.



Media and Movies

Media Heat: George F. Will on Real Time with Bill Maher

Today:
NPR's Here & Now: Tim McGraw and Jon Meacham, authors of Songs of America: Patriotism, Protest, and the Music That Made a Nation (Random House, $30, 9780593132951).

Tomorrow:
Live with Kelly and Ryan: Kate Gilman Williams, co-author of Let's Go on Safari (Crickhollow Books, $12.95, 9781933987279).

Late Show with Stephen Colbert: Dan Abrams, co-author of Theodore Roosevelt for the Defense: The Courtroom Battle to Save His Legacy (Hanover Square Press, $27.99, 9781335016447).

HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher: George F. Will, author of The Conservative Sensibility (Hachette Books, $35, 9780316480932).


This Weekend on Book TV: Author Interviews from BookExpo

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, June 15
9:06 a.m. Samantha Power, author of The Education of an Idealist: A Memoir (Dey Street, $29.99, 9780062820693), at BookExpo in New York City.

2 p.m. Mary Wilson, co-author of Supreme Glamour (Thames & Hudson, $40, 9780500022009), at BookExpo.

2:15 p.m. David Weinberger, author of Everyday Chaos: Technology, Complexity, and How We're Thriving in a New World of Possibility (Harvard Business Review Press, $30, 9781633693951), at Book Culture Bookstore in New York City.

3:45 p.m. Mark Levin, author of Unfreedom of the Press (Threshold Editions, $28, 9781476773094). (Re-airs Sunday at 8 p.m.)

4:40 p.m. Anna Wiener, author of Uncanny Valley: A Memoir (MCD, $27, 9780374278014), at BookExpo.

6:29 p.m. Malcolm Gladwell, author of Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know about the People We Don't Know (Little, Brown, $30, 9780316478526). (Re-airs Sunday at 9:45 a.m.)

6:45 p.m. Brian Lamb and Susan Swain, co-authors of The Presidents: Noted Historians Rank America's Best--and Worst--Chief Executives (PublicAffairs, $32, 9781541774339). (Re-airs Sunday at 10 p.m.)

8:01 p.m. Mo Rocca, author of Mobituaries: Great Lives Worth Reliving (Simon & Schuster, $28.99, 9781501197628), at BookExpo. (Re-airs Sunday at 11:16 p.m.)

8:15 p.m. Jerome Corsi, author of Silent No More: How I Became a Political Prisoner of Mueller's "Witch Hunt" (Post Hill Press, $28, 9781642932171). (Re-airs Sunday at 2:10 p.m.)

9:32 p.m. Susan Rice, author of Tough Love: My Story of the Things Worth Fighting For (Simon & Schuster, $30, 9781501189975).

10 p.m. Jim Acosta, author of The Enemy of the People: A Dangerous Time to Tell the Truth in America (Harper, $27.99, 9780062916129). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m. and Monday at 12 a.m. and 3 a.m.)

11 p.m. A profile of married authors Jeanne Safer and Richard Brookhiser. (Re-airs Sunday at 6:45 p.m.)

Sunday, June 16
12:15 a.m. Jennifer Hawes, author of Grace Will Lead Us Home: The Charleston Church Massacre and the Hard, Inspiring Journey to Forgiveness (St. Martin's Press, $28.99, 9781250117762). (Re-airs Sunday at 5:45 p.m.)

1 p.m. Emilie Aries, author of Bossed Up: A Grown Woman's Guide to Getting Your Sh*t Together (PublicAffairs, $27, 9781541724204), at Astoria Bookshop in New York City.

3:27 p.m. James Poniewozik, author of Audience of One: Donald Trump, Television, and the Fracturing of America (Liveright, $27.95, 9781631494420), at BookExpo.

4:35 p.m. Eric Haseltine, author of The Spy in Moscow Station: A Counterspy's Hunt for a Deadly Cold War Threat (Thomas Dunne, $29.99, 9781250301161), at Book Soup Bookstore in Los Angeles, Calif.

5:10 p.m. David Randall, author of Black Death at the Golden Gate: The Race to Save America from the Bubonic Plague (Norton, $26.95, 9780393609455), at Green Apple Books in San Francisco, Calif.


Books & Authors

Awards: Wolfson History; International Dublin; IndieReader Discovery

Reckonings: Legacies of Nazi Persecution and the Quest for Justice by Mary Fulbrook (Oxford University Press) has won the £40,000 (about $50,760) 2019 Wolfson History Prize, which honors "books which combine excellence in research with readability."

The organizers wrote in part: "A single word--'Auschwitz'--is often used to symbolise the Holocaust. Yet this focus on a single concentration camp--however horrific, however catastrophic its scale--leaves an incomplete story. It cannot fully convey the myriad ways in which individuals became tangled up on the side of the perpetrators, and obscures the diversity of experiences among a wide range of victims as they struggled and died, or managed, against all odds, to survive. It also misses the continuing legacies of Nazi persecution over generations, and across continents.

"Reckonings expands our understanding, exploring the lives of individuals across a full spectrum of suffering and guilt, each one capturing a small part of the greater story. It exposes the disjuncture between official myths about dealing with the past, and the extent to which the vast majority of Nazi perpetrators in fact evaded justice."

---

Idaho by Emily Ruskovich (Random House) has won the €100,000 (about $112,890) International Dublin Literary Award, which "aims to promote excellence in world literature" by honoring a novel written in English or translated into English. The prize is sponsored by Dublin City Council and managed by Dublin City Libraries. The winning novel was chosen from a total of 141 titles, nominated by libraries in 115 cities across 41 countries. Ruskovich is only the fourth American to win the award in its 24-year history.

The judges said, in part, "At the heart of Emily Ruskovich's haunting debut novel is the inexplicable. A young couple, Jenny and Wade, move from the prairies to the utter loneliness and unexpected isolation of the Northern Idaho mountains where they carelessly bought a piece of wooded land on a steep mountainside. As yet, they know nothing about the winter that will entrap them: masses of snow, no plow, no neighbours, the next settlement eight miles away. This is not an idyll. Years go by. They build a house with their own hands; two children are born--May and June. Then, all of a sudden, in a brutal flash, with no warning, their happiness and their love are destroyed forever.

"Ruskovich's masterful achievement is to narrate with consummate skill the complex series of events covering a time-span of more than 50 years. Empathy and love stand next to cruelty and crime. Individual guilt, trauma and pain are looming as large as eventual forgiveness and the ability to live in half-knowledge. Ultimately, Idaho evolves into a masterpiece on the redeeming and regenerative potential of music, poetry, literature and art."

---

The winners of the IndieReader Discovery Awards, sponsored by IndieReader, were announced at BookCon in New York City. All top winners' titles will be considered by literary agents Dystal, Goderich & Bourret for representation consideration. Winners in more than 30 categories can be seen here. The winners of the fiction and nonfiction categories are:

Fiction:
First place: Heroines of Avalon & Other Tales by Ayn Cates Sullivan
Second place: A Lyle Saxon Reader: Lost Stories of the French Quarter and Buried Treasure by Lyle Saxon, edited by Michael Warner
Third place: Elastic Girl by Olivia Rana

Nonfiction:
First place: Freckled: A Memoir of Growing Up Wild in Hawaii by Toby Neal
Second place: Breaking Bonds: How to Divorce an Abuser and Heal by Rosemary Lombardy
Third place: Gather & Make: Plant-Based Projects for All Seasons by Genevieve Layman


Midwest Connections June Picks

The Midwest Independent Booksellers Association has selected its Midwest Connections Picks for June. Under this marketing program, the association and member stores promote booksellers' handselling favorites that have a strong Midwest regional appeal.

Loudermilk by Lucy Ives (Soft Skull Press, $16.95, 9781593763909). "A tale of two idiots--the handsome, charismatic Troy Augustus Loudermilk and his unassuming, socially anxious friend Harry Rego--who, in the early days of the new millennium, scam their way into a fellowship at the most prestigious creative writing program in the country."

The Summer Demands by Deborah Shapiro (Catapult, $25, 9781948226301). "On the verge of her fortieth birthday, and shaken by a recent miscarriage, Emily inherits an abandoned summer camp in Massachusetts and discovers a magnetic young woman living undetected in a cabin whose presence will force her to question everything she thought she knew."

Reflections on a Life in Exile by J.F. Riordan (Beaufort Books, $14.95, 9780825308932). "Written in lyrical prose, Reflections on a Life in Exile captures and magnifies the passing beauty of the ordinary and the extraordinary that lingers near the surface of daily life. Although not about dogs, the book is permeated with dog stories, a love of nature, and an almost mystical sense of wonder."

The Unforgettable Guinevere St. Clair by Amy Makechnie (Atheneum, $17.99, 9781534414464). "Guinevere St. Clair is a lawyer, the fastest girl in NYC, an expert on the human brain, and, now that her family's moved to her parents' hometown of Crowe, Iowa--in hopes of curing her mother's memory loss--she wants to ride into her first day of school on a cow named Willowdale Princess Deon Dawn."


Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, June 18:

A Death in the Rainforest: How a Language and a Way of Life Came to an End in Papua New Guinea by Don Kulick (Algonquin, $26.95, 9781616209049) is written by an anthropologist who studied a single village for 30 years.

Measuring Poverty around the World by Anthony B. Atkinson (Princeton University Press, $29.95, 9780691191225) is the posthumous publication of an economist's look at global poverty.

Her Daughter's Mother by Daniela Petrova (Putnam, $26, 9780525539971) follows a woman obsessed with her child's egg donor.

Haunting Paris: A Novel by Mamta Chaudhry (Nan A. Talese, $25.95, 9780385544603) takes place in 1989 Paris, where a woman discovers secrets about her deceased lover's family.

Fleishman Is in Trouble: A Novel by Taffy Brodesser-Akner (Random House, $27, 9780525510871) follows a divorced doctor with split custody.

The Perfect Fraud: A Novel by Ellen LaCorte (Harper, $26.99, 9780062906076) is a thriller about a fraudulent psychic.

How to Read a Book by Kwame Alexander, illustrated by Melissa Sweet (HarperCollins, $17.99, 9780062307811) is a picture book adventure about the wonders of reading.

Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay (Kokila, $17.99, 9780525554912) features a Filipino-American teen who travels to the Philippines to solve his cousin's murder.

Paperbacks:
The Rumor: A Novel by Lesley Kara (Ballantine, $17, 9781984819345).

The Affair of the Mysterious Letter by Alexis Hall (Ace, $16, 9780440001331).


IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

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

Hardcover
The Binding: A Novel by Bridget Collins (Morrow, $26.99, 9780062838094). "An absolutely gorgeous novel! Collins writes Emmett in such a way that readers will experience his confusion and frustration and then have it unknotted simultaneously as his tale unfolds. The three parts of the novel are brilliantly ordered to deliver a powerful tale that will tear your heart to pieces slowly and, in one spectacular scene, mend it completely with hope and love. Do Binders provide healing and comfort, or are they wicked magicians determined to leave you empty? What are you willing to risk for someone you love?" --Angela Shores, Adventure Bound Books, Morganton, N.C.

Hardcover: An Indies Introduce Title
Cape May: A Novel by Chip Cheek (Celadon Books, $26.99, 9781250297150). "This book is extraordinary. In a small, empty beachside town after the season ends, a couple on their ill-planned honeymoon, slowly awakening to all the ways they can disappoint each other, stumble across a Gatsby-ish household of worldly beautiful people who embrace them wholeheartedly. The days pass in a glorious gin-soaked daze; erotic tension charges every encounter. Chip writes like James Salter, with a sense of humor and a fuller appreciation and understanding of female desire. Moving, so gorgeous, and absolutely brilliant." --Mary Cotton, Newtonville Books, Newton Centre, Mass.

Paperback
The High Season: A Novel by Judy Blundell (Random House, $17, 9780525508731). "What would you do to keep your home by the sea on Long Island? Maybe rent it out for the summer in order to get some cash to pay the bills? But what if the person who rents the house this summer is out to get more than the house? Ruthie's about to find out what she's capable of when the rich and famous Adeline Clay takes over her nest. The parties, invited guests, and nasty business keep building, until, finally, Ruthie reaches the end of her patience and there's only one thing left to do. You'll be glad you decided to go along on this ride!" --Linda Bond, Auntie’s Bookstore, Spokane, Wash.

For Ages 4 to 8
My Papi Has a Motorcycle by Isabel Quintero, illustrated by Zeke Peña (Kokila, $17.99, 9780525553410). "This book is perfect for Father's Day! This beautifully illustrated celebration of all that makes father-daughter relationships so powerful also incorporates a vision of neighborhoods filled with many who do not often see their world reflected in the pages of books. This is for all those fathers who show their love in ways not typically seen in picture books, and for all those daughters who recognize and cherish those acts of love." --Linda Sherman-Nurick, Cellar Door Books, Riverside, Calif.

For Ages 9 to 12
Odd Gods by David Slavin and Daniel Weitzman, illustrated by Adam J.B. Lane (HarperCollins, $13.99, 9780062839534). "While the characters are rooted in Greek mythology, this story is very relatable for any young reader, and this is a great book for anyone who likes the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. The characters are classified as Gods and odds, and the illustrations are very well done and quite funny. The story is all about overcoming stereotypes and being confident in yourself, no matter how odd you may be." --Ashlee Mitchell, Viewpoint Books, Columbus, Ind.

For Teen Readers
Let Me Hear a Rhyme by Tiffany D. Jackson (Katherine Tegen, $17.99, 9780062840325). "Jackson's third novel transports you straight into the Brooklyn of the late '90s, full of great hip-hop and rap references, dial-up internet, and the cultural reverberations of the murders of Tupac and Biggie on the black community. When their best friend is shot and killed, two teens attempt to keep his spirit alive by convincing his younger sister to let them make years of his secretly recorded rap music go viral. Jackson's characters are tangible and her atmosphere is so timely, even though it is set 20 years in the past." --Lauren Nopenz Fairley, Curious Iguana, Frederick, Md.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]


Book Review

Review: Four Friends: Promising Lives Cut Short

Four Friends: Promising Lives Cut Short by William D. Cohan (Flatiron Books, $28.99 hardcover, 384p., 9781250070524, July 9, 2019)

On any list of elite American prep schools, Phillips Academy (commonly known as Andover, for the Massachusetts town in which it is located) would rank near the top. Hundreds of its graduates have gone on to occupy positions of power and influence in business, government, law and other fields. In Four Friends: Promising Lives Cut Short, veteran journalist William D. Cohan (The Price of Silence), a 1977 graduate of the school, tells the stories of four of his Andover contemporaries whose lives were launched on that path to prominence. Each, however, died suddenly in his late 30s, or just beyond. As much as it is an account of those tragically brief lives, Cohan's book is a frank meditation on the fragility and preciousness of life at any age.

Of Cohan's four subjects, the most prominent, and closest to him, was John F. Kennedy Jr., who lived in the same dorm as the author during his first year at Andover. Kennedy's well-known story is one of a young man who lived for most of his four decades in the glare of the media spotlight. At the time of his death in July 1999, he was engaged in two fierce struggles: one to right the fortunes of his foundering political magazine George and the other to save his failing marriage to Carolyn Bessette. Cohan recounts both of these grim stories in intimate detail.

Two of Cohan's other subjects--lawyer Jack Berman and lawyer and businessman Harry Bull--had assembled the sort of gleaming résumés and early career accomplishment that foretold lives of professional eminence and material comfort. In perhaps the cruelest twist of fate, Berman, the son of Holocaust survivors, was murdered while attending a client's deposition, by a disgruntled former client of his opposing counsel's law firm, armed with a semiautomatic weapon.

Bull, who had recently left a lucrative law firm partnership to assume management of a thriving family business, died, along with his two young daughters, in an unexplained boating accident on Lake Michigan, not far from his suburban Chicago home. Will Daniel, the final member of Cohan's foursome, who was killed by a taxi while crossing a New York City street, struggled with the notoriety of being the grandson of President Harry Truman, but by all accounts was a compassionate social worker and a loyal friend.

The tragic deaths of Kennedy, Berman, Daniel and Bull are a reminder, Cohan writes, that "Not even those who have every privilege that life offers, right from the start, can escape the inevitable." For all its exposition of the truth embodied in that observation, Four Friends is also a book that will inspire reflection, not merely on what these men accomplished in their too brief existences, but on how much they might have contributed to the world if they'd been able to live out the full span of their years. --Harvey Freedenberg, freelance reviewer

Shelf Talker: A seasoned journalist tells the stories of four of his Andover friends whose lives ended tragically before they reached their prime.


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