A bio-memoir book recommendation: Mr. S by George Jacobs

A critic review (source AV Club) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2mZPycL.
Mr. S offers a curious sort of double-voyeurism, with Jacobs inviting readers to vicariously experience his own vicarious access to the life of one of pop-culture’s preeminent icons. Sinatra’s story is so compelling and larger-than-life, though, that even a secondhand account like Jacobs’ packs a powerful punch.
Book description from Google Books:
“Mr. S: My Life with Frank Sinatra, by former valet-aide George Jacobs with an oh-so-able assist by William Stadiem, has at least five quotable and shocking remarks about the famous on every page. The fifteen years Jacobs toiled for Frank produces a classic of its genre — a gold-star gossip-lover’s dream…. “The rest is showbiz history as it was, and only Ava Gardner, Humphrey Bogart, and Betty Bacall are spared. Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland, Juliet Prowse, Noel Coward, Cole Porter, Mia Farrow, Elvis Presley, Swifty Lazar, Dean Martin, Peggy Lee, Sammy Davis Jr., Marlene Dietrich, Greta Garbo, Jimmy van Heusen, Edie Goetz, Peter Lawford, and all of the Kennedys come in for heaping portions of ‘deep dish,’ served hot. Sordid, trashy, funny, and so rat-a-tat with its smart inside info and hip instant analysis that some of it seems too good to be true….
The book is rated 3.78/5 at goodreads.com, from 542 ratings. See 62 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2mZDiZo.
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A bio-memoir book recommendation: Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann

A critic review (source NY Journal of Books) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2sC7Fb2.
This is a very interesting, informative account of a virtually unknown episode in American history, not to mention well written and cogent by bestselling author, David Grann. Although there seems to be a trend recently toward notes based on quotes and other terms and expressions in the text, the research is there that underlies this story.
Book description from Google Books:
“Disturbing and riveting…Grann has proved himself a master of spinning delicious, many-layered mysteries that also happen to be true…It will sear your soul.” –Dave Eggers, New York Times Book Review From New Yorker staff writer David Grann, #1 New York Times best-selling author of The Lost City of Z, a twisting, haunting true-life murder mystery about one of the most monstrous crimes in American history         In the 1920s, the richest people per capita in the world were members of the Osage Indian nation in Oklahoma. After oil was discovered beneath their land, they rode in chauffeured automobiles, built mansions, and sent their children to study in Europe.       Then, one by one, the Osage began to be killed off. The family of an Osage woman, Mollie Burkhart, became a prime target. Her relatives were shot and poisoned. And it was just the beginning, as more and more members of the tribe began to die under mysterious circumstances.       In this last remnant of the Wild West–where oilmen like J. P. Getty made their fortunes and where desperadoes like Al Spencer, the “Phantom Terror,” roamed–many of those who dared to investigate the killings were themselves murdered. As the death toll climbed to more than twenty-four, the FBI took up the case. It was one of the organization’s first major homicide investigations and the bureau badly bungled the case. In desperation, the young director, J. Edgar Hoover, turned to a former Texas Ranger named Tom White to unravel the mystery. White put together an undercover team, including one of the only American Indian agents in the bureau. The agents infiltrated the region, struggling to adopt the latest techniques of detection.  Together with the Osage they began to expose one of the most chilling conspiracies in American history.        In Killers of the Flower Moon, David Grann revisits a shocking series of crimes in which dozens of people were murdered in cold blood. Based on years of research and startling new evidence, the book is a masterpiece of narrative nonfiction, as each step in the investigation reveals a series of sinister secrets and reversals. But more than that, it is a searing indictment of the callousness and prejudice toward American Indians that allowed the murderers to operate with impunity for so long. Killers of the Flower Moon is utterly compelling, but also emotionally devastating.
The book is rated 4.21/5 at goodreads.com, from 8066 ratings. See 1369 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2sCexVG.
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A bio-memoir book recommendation: Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

A critic review (source NY Times) can be read at: http://nyti.ms/2n9yZdS.
In the end, “Born a Crime” is not just an unnerving account of growing up in South Africa under apartheid, but a love letter to the author’s remarkable mother…
Book description from amazon.com:
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The compelling, inspiring, and comically sublime story of one man’s coming-of-age, set during the twilight of apartheid and the tumultuous days of freedom that followedNAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY Michiko Kakutani, New York Times • Newsday • Esquire • NPR • BooklistTrevor Noah’s unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Trevor was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. Living proof of his parents’ indiscretion, Trevor was kept mostly indoors for the earliest years of his life, bound by the extreme and often absurd measures his mother took to hide him from a government that could, at any moment, steal him away. Finally liberated by the end of South Africa’s tyrannical white rule, Trevor and his mother set forth on a grand adventure, living openly and freely and embracing the opportunities won by a centuries-long struggle.Born a Crime is the story of a mischievous young boy who grows into a restless young man as he struggles to find himself in a world where he was never supposed to exist. It is also the story of that young man’s relationship with his fearless, rebellious, and fervently religious mother—his teammate, a woman determined to save her son from the cycle of poverty, violence, and abuse that would ultimately threaten her own life.The stories collected here are by turns hilarious, dramatic, and deeply affecting. Whether subsisting on caterpillars for dinner during hard times, being thrown from a moving car during an attempted kidnapping, or just trying to survive the life-and-death pitfalls of dating in high school, Trevor illuminates his curious world with an incisive wit and unflinching honesty. His stories weave together to form a moving and searingly funny portrait of a boy making his way through a damaged world in a dangerous time, armed only with a keen sense of humor and a mother’s unconventional, unconditional love.
The book is rated 4.49/5 at goodreads.com, from 47007 ratings. See 7049 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2nsmYCL.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2ntmsEB.

A bio-memoir book recommendation: The Shepherd’s View: Modern Photographs From an Ancient Landscape by James Rebanks

A critic review (source Star Tribune) can be read at: http://strib.mn/2qLFPrD.
One of the book’s best features is that it’s a literary slice of shepherding life. Read it front to back or back to front, simply admire the photos or open it at any short chapter and dig in.
Book description from Google Books:
From The New York Times bestselling author of The Shepherd’s Life, a breathtaking book of photography and wisdom that chronicles an ancient way of living that deeply resonates in our modern world. With over eighty full color photographs The English Lake District comes into full focus: the sheep competitions of the spring, the sweeping pastures of the summer, beloved sheep dogs in the fall and the harsh snows of winter. A celebration of a way of life still very much alive, The Shepherd’s View is a poetic, and artistic achievement from one of England’s most celebrated new voices.
The book is rated 4.47/5 at goodreads.com, from 169 ratings. See 41 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2s5ikhs.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2qLqNCu.

A bio-memoir book recommendation: The Rules Do Not Apply: A Memoir by Ariel Levy

A critic review (source Star Tribune) can be read at: http://strib.mn/2s10TOM.
Levy is an incredibly talented writer who has built a solid body of work, but “The Rules Do Not Apply” does not have the same energy that her magazine writing is known for.
Book description from Google Books:
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER * A gorgeous memoir about a woman overcoming dramatic loss and finding reinvention “Cheryl Strayed meets a Nora Ephron movie. You’ll laugh, ugly cry, and finish it before the weekend’s over.”–theSkimm Named one of the best books of 2017 so far by Time and Entertainment Weekly When Ariel Levy left for a reporting trip to Mongolia in 2012, she was pregnant, married, financially secure, and successful on her own terms. A month later, none of that was true. Levy picks you up and hurls you through the story of how she built an unconventional life and then watched it fall apart with astonishing speed. Like much of her generation, she was raised to resist traditional rules–about work, about love, and about womanhood. In this “deeply human and deeply moving” (The New York Times Book Review) memoir, Levy chronicles the adventure and heartbreak of being, in her own words, “a woman who is free to do whatever she chooses.” Her story of resilience becomes an unforgettable portrait of the shifting forces in our culture, of what has changed–and of what is eternal. Praise for The Rules Do Not Apply “Levy has the rare gift of seeing herself with fierce, unforgiving clarity. And she deploys prose to match, raw and agile. She plumbs the commotion deep within and takes the measure of her have-it-all generation.”–The Atlantic “[The Rules Do Not Apply] is a short, sharp American memoir in the Mary Karr tradition of life-chronicling. Which is to say that Levy, like Karr, is a natural writer who is also as unsparing and bleakly hilarious as it’s possible to be about oneself. . . . I devoured her story in one sitting.”–Financial Times “It’s an act of courage to hunt for meaning within grief, particularly if the search upends your life and shakes out the contents for all the world to sift through. Ariel Levy embarks on the hunt beautifully in her new memoir.”–Chicago Tribune “I read it in one big messy gulp, because it is beautiful and heartbreaking and unruly and real. You should preorder it immediately so you can fall into her complicated, funny, and finely wrought world as soon as humanly possible.”–Lenny.com “A thoroughly modern memoir, the elements of The Rules Do Not Apply seem plucked not from the script of Girls, which has also been exploring reproductive issues of late, but Transparent–even Portlandia.”–The New York Times “Frank and unflinchingly sincere . . . A gut-wrenching, emotionally charged work of soul-baring writing in the spirit of Joan Didion, Helen Macdonald, and Elizabeth Gilbert, The Rules Do Not Apply is a must-read for women.”–Bustle “Unflinching and intimate, wrenching and revelatory, Ariel Levy’s powerful memoir about love, loss, and finding one’s way shimmers with truth and heart on every page.”–Cheryl Strayed “Every deep feeling a human is capable of will be shaken loose by this profound book. Ariel Levy has taken grief and made art out of it.”–David Sedaris “Ariel Levy is a writer of uncompromising honesty, remarkable clarity, and surprising humor gathered from the wreckage of tragedy. Her account of life doing its darnedest to topple her, and her refusal to be knocked down, will leave you shaken and inspired. I am the better for having read this book.”–Lena Dunham
The book is rated 3.84/5 at goodreads.com, from 5753 ratings. See 754 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2s0BuFe.
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A bio-memoir book recommendation: Tong Wars: The Untold Story of Vice, Money, and Murder in New York’s Chinatown by Scott D. Seligman

A critic review (source Washington Times) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2qKiVRz.
“Tong Wars” is a well-researched and well-written story that will interest crime aficionados, as well as those interested in American history.
Book description from Google Books:
A ripsnorting true story of money, murder, gambling, prostitution, and opium: the Chinese gang wars that engulfed New York’s Chinatown from the 1890s through the 1930s. Nothing had worked. Not threats or negotiations, not shutting down the betting parlors or opium dens, not house-to-house searches or throwing Chinese offenders into prison. Not even executing them. The New York DA was running out of ideas and more people were dying every day as the weapons of choice evolved from hatchets and meat cleavers to pistols, automatic weapons, and even bombs. Welcome to New York City’s Chinatown in 1925.             The Chinese in turn-of-the-last-century New York were mostly immigrant peasants and shopkeepers who worked as laundrymen, cigar makers, and domestics. They gravitated to lower Manhattan and lived as Chinese an existence as possible, their few diversions–gambling, opium, and prostitution–available but, sadly, illegal. It didn’t take long before one resourceful merchant saw a golden opportunity to feather his nest by positioning himself squarely between the vice dens and the police charged with shutting them down.            Tong Wars is historical true crime set against the perfect landscape: Tammany-era New York City. Representatives of rival tongs (secret societies) corner the various markets of sin using admirably creative strategies. The city government was already corrupt from top to bottom, so once one tong began taxing the gambling dens and paying off the authorities, a rival, jealously eyeing its lucrative franchise, co-opted a local reformist group to help eliminate it. Pretty soon Chinese were slaughtering one another in the streets, inaugurating a succession of wars that raged for the next thirty years.              Scott D. Seligman’s account roars through three decades of turmoil, with characters ranging from gangsters and drug lords to reformers and do-gooders to judges, prosecutors, cops, and pols of every stripe and color. A true story set in Prohibition-era Manhattan a generation after Gangs of New York, but fought on the very same turf.
The book is rated 3.43/5 at goodreads.com, from 86 ratings. See 24 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2s474ln.
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A bio-memoir book recommendation: Play All: A Bingewatcher’s Notebook by Clive James

A critic review (source NY Times) can be read at: http://nyti.ms/2dPdUjw.
But don’t let these minor encrustations put you off. “Play All” is a small book but by no means a slight one.
Book description from Google Books:
A world-renowned media and cultural critic offers an insightful analysis of serial TV drama and the modern art of the small screen Television and TV viewing are not what they once were–and that’s a good thing, according to award-winning author and critic Clive James. Since serving as television columnist for the London Observer from 1972 to 1982, James has witnessed a radical change in content, format, and programming, and in the very manner in which TV is watched. Here he examines this unique cultural revolution, providing a brilliant, eminently entertaining analysis of many of the medium’s most notable twenty-first-century accomplishments and their not always subtle impact on modern society–including such acclaimed serial dramas as Breaking Bad, The West Wing, Mad Men, and The Sopranos, as well as the comedy 30 Rock. With intelligence and wit, James explores a television landscape expanded by cable and broadband and profoundly altered by the advent of Netflix, Amazon, and other “cord-cutting” platforms that have helped to usher in a golden age of unabashed binge-watching.
The book is rated 3.61/5 at goodreads.com, from 169 ratings. See 35 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2fjrqkn.
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A bio-memoir book recommendation: The Man Who Ate the Zoo: Frank Buckland, forgotten hero of natural history by Richard Girling

A critic review (source The Economist) can be read at: http://econ.st/2mK1X7w.
Today he does not even merit a mention in the “Encyclopaedia Britannica”. This brilliantly entertaining biography argues persuasively why his memory, too, is worthy of conservation.
Book description from Google Books:
Frank Buckland was an extraordinary man – a surgeon, a natural historian, a sell-out lecturer, a bestselling writer, a museum curator… and a conservationist, before the concept even existed. Eccentric, revolutionary, popular, prolific, he was one of the nineteenth century’s authentic geniuses. He was obsessed by food security and finding ways to feed the hungry (the book recounts his many unusual experiments), and by protecting our fisheries (he can be credited with saving British fish from commercial extinction). He was one of the most original, far-sighted and influential natural scientists of his time, held as high in public esteem as Charles Darwin. The Man Who Ate the Zoo is no conventional biography, but rather a journey back into Buckland’s life, a hunt for this forgotten man. It sets Buckland’s thinking and achievements in a rounded historical context, but views this Victorian adventurer from a modern viewpoint. It is both a rollicking yarn – engaging, funny and provocative – and a celebration of the great age of natural science, one man’s genius and what, even now, can be learned from him.
The book is rated 4.20/5 at goodreads.com, from 5 ratings. See 1 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2mVkKcL.
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A bio-memoir book recommendation: The Blood of Emmett Till by Timothy B. Tyson

A critic review (source Star Tribune) can be read at: http://strib.mn/2p1sMVb.
A terrific writer and storyteller, Tyson compels a closer look at a heinous crime and the consequential decisions, large and small, that made it a national issue.
Book description from Google Books:
This extraordinary New York Times bestseller reexamines a pivotal event of the civil rights movement—the 1955 lynching of Emmett Till—“and demands that we do the one vital thing we aren’t often enough asked to do with history: learn from it” (The Atlantic).In 1955, white men in the Mississippi Delta lynched a fourteen-year-old from Chicago named Emmett Till. His murder was part of a wave of white terrorism in the wake of the 1954 Supreme Court decision that declared public school segregation unconstitutional. Only weeks later, Rosa Parks thought about young Emmett as she refused to move to the back of a city bus in Montgomery, Alabama. Five years later, Black students who called themselves “the Emmett Till generation” launched sit-in campaigns that turned the struggle for civil rights into a mass movement. Till’s lynching became the most notorious hate crime in American history. But what actually happened to Emmett Till—not the icon of injustice, but the flesh-and-blood boy? Part detective story, part political history, The Blood of Emmett Till “unfolds like a movie” (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution), drawing on a wealth of new evidence, including a shocking admission of Till’s innocence from the woman in whose name he was killed. “Jolting and powerful” (The Washington Post), the book “provides fresh insight into the way race has informed and deformed our democratic institutions” (Diane McWhorter, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Carry Me Home) and “calls us to the cause of justice today” (Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, president of the North Carolina NAACP).
The book is rated 4.13/5 at goodreads.com, from 1170 ratings. See 235 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2pJ8ptQ.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2pJkYoY.
Google Books preview available in full post.

A bio-memoir book recommendation: The Optician of Lampedusa: A Novella Based on a True Story by Emma-Jane Kirby

A critic review (source Guardian) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2glYjxA.
This is an ambitious and important book that goes far beyond the voyeurism of 24-hour news to identify something timeless and troubling. Shortly after the drownings, Pope Francis spoke of “a day for tears”. Emma Jane Kirby challenges us to do more than cry.
Book description from Google Books:
The only optician on the island of Lampedusa in the Mediterranean is an ordinary man in his fifties, who used to be indifferent to the fate of the thousands of refugees landing on the coast of the Italian island. One day in the fall of 2013, the unimaginable scale of the tragedy became clear to him, and it changed him forever: as he was out boating with some friends, he encountered hundreds of men, women and children drowning in the aftermath of a shipwreck. The Optician and his seven friends managed to save 47 people (his boat was designed to hold ten people). All the others died. This is a poignant and unforgettable account about the awakening of conscience: more than that, it brings home the reality of an ongoing refugee crisis that has resulted in one of the most massive migrations in human history. More than 360 people died in the disaster off the coast of Lampedusa on October 3, 2013. The original interview with Carmine Menna, the basis for this book, can be heard at http://bit.ly/optlamp
The book is rated 4.19/5 at goodreads.com, from 553 ratings. See 93 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2f62pEM.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2snxrzv.