“At Eternity’s Gate” is a drama about Van Gogh’s last years. On a self-imposed exile in Arles, he grapples with religion and mental illness while developing a unique style of painting. William Dafoe in the title role got a best actor shout. “If Beale Street Could Talk” is a romantic drama about a woman who seeks to clear the name of her wrongly charged lover and prove his innocence before the birth of their child. Tho snubbed in the major categories, the film did get nominations for supporting actress (Regina King) and adapted screenplay.
“Cemetery Road” by Greg Iles is another story about privilege and mayhem in Mississippi. “The Malta Exchange’ by Steve Berry features Templars, and clerics and treasures (oh my). “Never Tell” by Lisa Gardner finds the same woman present at two murder scenes. Coincidence? “The Perfect Alibi” by Phillip Margolin uses campus rape as a set-up for suspense. “The Chef” by James Patterson plays the wrongly accused cop card. ‘Wolf Pack” by C. J. Box plays the meddling FBI card.
In “The Lost Man” by Jane Harper (“The Dry”), two brothers find the body of their third sibling in a remote corner of the outback. His death seems suspicions and the isolation of the outback leaves few suspects. Charles Todd is back with “The Black Ascot”. Inspector Rutledge is in search a murder suspect who has eluded capture for ten years. In Jonathan Kellerman’s “The Wedding Guest”, Sturgis and Delaware investigate a death at a wild saints and sinners-themed wedding reception. In “The Killer Collective” by Barry Eisler, a joint FBI-Seattle Police investigation of an international child pornography ring gets too close to powerful people. Visit our catalog by clicking on the links to see a snapshot of these items or to place a reserve. “The Lost Man” and “the Wedding Guest” are also available on audio CD.
“Valley Forge” by Bob Drury and Tom Clavin is a seasonally-appropriate account of the longest winter of the American Revolution. In 1777, after being beaten at Brandywine and Germantown, Washington’s army abandoned Philadelphia. Congress fled to Lancaster, and the army took up winter quarters at Valley Forge. Equal measures of privation, disease and dissent threatened the army’s survival. Drury tells how Washington kept the army together and prepared them to fight another day.
“The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee” by David Treuer tells the story of Native America from the surrender of the tribes in the 1890s to the present. Treuer details the forced assimilation of native children at government-run boarding schools. He shows how military service and urban migration brought native people into the American mainstream. He also explores the native cultural resurgence and resistance movements. This is an “essential, intimate history of a resilient people,” and, in light of the Standing Rock protests and the election of the first native women to Congress, is as timely as today’s news. It also makes an excellent companion to Tommy Orange’s bestselling “There There” and David Grann’s “Killers of the Flower Moon”.
March is women’s history month and there is no shortage of good stories about amazing women. “Flygirls” by Keith O’Brien portrays female aviation pioneers. Memoirs by former first lady Michelle Obama (“Becoming”), senators Kamala Harris (“The Truths We Hold”) and Kirsten Gillibrand (“Off the Sidelines”), and judge Sandra Day O’Connor (“Out of Order“) talk about life in the public sphere. Form PM Margaret Thatcher and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg are profiled in book and film (“RGB” and “Iron Lady“). Biographies of Sally Field, Joni Mitchell, and Bunny Mellon portray women in the arts. “Women Rowing North” by Mary Pipher explores ways women can cultivate resilient responses to the challenges of aging.
Richard Gergel’s “Unexampled Courage” tells how the mistreatment of an army veteran let President Harry Truman and southern judge J. Waties Waring on the path to history-changing decisions. On February 12, 1946, Sergeant Isaac Woodard, a decorated African American veteran, was removed from a Greyhound bus in South Carolina, arrested, and beaten so badly while in custody that he was blinded for life. An all-white jury acquitted the arresting officer of charges. Outraged, President Truman launched a presidential commission on civil rights and ordered the desegregation in the U.S. armed forces. Meanwhile, Judge Waring, who presided over the Woodard trial, was appalled by the acquittal and began to take civil rights cases, one which laid the groundwork for Brown v. Board of Education. Both worked closely with lawyers William White and Thurgood Marshall of the NAACP. A brisk pace, vivid personalities and a galvanizing story make this an excellent read and our top selection for Black History Month. A related read is “Invisible”, Stephen Carter’s life of the black woman lawyer who built the case that took down mob boss Lucky Luciano.