Monday, January 12, 2015


Cold winter days are perfect for reading biographies of the people who have shaped history, culture, politics and entertainment.  Scott Eyman has made a name for himself writing about Hollywood.  His latest book discusses one of Hollywood’s most famous and most enduring actors.  This exhaustive look at Wayne was started before the Duke’s death.  Eyman interviewed Wayne and family members.  He draws on previously unpublished reminiscences from friends, family and associates as well as documents from Wayne’s production company.  Over 600 pages of text delves into Wayne’s life with more authority than previous publications.
            Bruce Allen Murphy is another author with expertise.—not of Hollywood, but of the U.S. Supreme Court.  His latest book Scalia, a Court of One examines the history of Justice Antonin Scalia.  Called one of the most outspoken and polarizing Supreme Court justices, Scalia’s career has not evolved in the way Court watchers expected.  Rather than uniting the conservative majority, Scalia’s personality has isolated him from his colleagues and provided plenty of fodder for critics.
            Gail Sheehy’s writing career has resulting in sixteen books and numerous articles for New York magazine.  Her book Passages has been named one of the ten most influential books of our times by the Library of Congress.   Her autobiography Daring, My Passages recounts her groundbreaking career as a 1960’s “girl” journalist.  Sheehy reflects on desire, ambition and wanting it all, and how she managed to achieve it all.
            The fourth President of the United States, James Madison, has been misunderstood and underappreciated for years.  Lynne Cheney tries to rectify this situation in James Madison, a Life Reconsidered.  Madison was not only the intellectual force behind the creation of the Constitution, but was essential to its ratification.  He also worked tirelessly to secure passage of the Bill of Rights.  He lead the First Congress and served as President Washington’s chief advisor.  Cheney explores Madison’s genius and debunks myths that have burdened his reputation.
            Worthy Fights by Leon Panetta with Jim Newton is a look at a politician who never shied away   He has been labeled a man who accepted two of the most consequential careers of any American public servant in the past fifty years.  Panetta accepted the position of Director of the CIA in 2009.  He moved the CIA from a state of turmoil back to the vital center of America’s war on terrorism.  Following the death of Osama bin Laden he served as U.S. Secretary of Defense and inherited two troubled wars.  This autobiography is not only a personal memoir, but a look at the defining events and people who have shaped our recent history.
from difficult decisions.
            Robin Roberts has captivated viewers on Good Morning America with her poise, humor and honesty.  Her autobiography Everybody’s Got Something is no different.  This book recounts her battle with breast cancer and the rare blood disorder MDS.  Roberts weaves her own personal history and family throughout the book to explain how she coped with two devastating diagnosis in the course of five years.  This inspirational book will be enjoyed by fans of Roberts as well as those who have struggled with a major illness.
            Jimmy Stewart Bomber Pilot by Starr Smith recounts the military career of one of Hollywood’s brightest stars during World War II.    Stewart enlisted in the army several months before the attack on Pearl Harbor.  He was at the height of his fame but felt it was his duty to serve his country.  His transition from Hollywood star to decorated bomber pilot is told in this book filled with historical facts and personal anecdotes. 
            What so Proudly We Hailed by Marc Leepson focuses on the life of songwriter and patriot Francis Scott Key.  The Star Spangled Banner was written under dramatic and unlikely conditions.  Key was on the deck of a British warship in Baltimore harbor during the all-night Battle of Baltimore.  Contradictions were a way of life for Francis Scott Key.  He was a slave owner who fought slave trafficking and defended slaves in court for free.  He was an influential confidant and adviser to Andrew Jackson.  He circulated with intellectuals of the era and played a little-known but important role in shaping the early policies of the United States.
            During the Roaring Twenties, architect Charles-Edouard Jeanneret-Gris renamed himself Le   His career evolved over the next fifty years so include some of the most important structures in the world as well as architectural and planning theories still used today.  Anthony Flint presents a picture of Le Corbusier in Modern Man, the Life of Le Crobusier, Architect of Tomorrow.  Using archival materials, interviews and the buildings themselves, Flint explains Le Corbusier’s legacy. 
            These and many other biographies await the reader on the shelves at the Peter White Public Library.

By Pam Christensen
Library Director

John Wayne, The Life and Legend

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