Staff Pick

Beginning with the sobering and somber testimony Marlon Brando gave at his son’s sentencing hearing for murder, William J. Mann’s biography, The Contender (Harper, $35), interweaves three major motifs into each stage of Brando’s life and work. First, there’s Brando’s personal brand of masculinity; bucking traditional chauvinism, this included highly intimate, even romantic (as in the case of the French actor Christian Marquand), relationships with men. Then there’s the actor’s lifelong commitment to social justice. Brando participated in conventional protests—most famously the 1963 March on Washington, which Mann reconstructs in detail, including Brando’s efforts to drum up celebrity support—and unconventional activism, most famously, by having Sacheen Littlefeather appear on his behalf at the 1973 Academy Award ceremony to refuse the Oscar. Perhaps most significantly—or possibly most salaciously, as Mann never shies away from details—there’s Brando’s near constant romantic and familial drama, which Mann characterizes as the star’s greatest failure. Brando’s perennial affairs and his neglect of his family clash with the popular image of Brando as a
ladies’ man.

The Contender: The Story of Marlon Brando Cover Image
$35.00
ISBN: 9780062427649
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Harper - October 15th, 2019

Staff Pick

Phineas Barnum (1810-1891), American hustler, huckster, and entertainer, is best known for Barnum and Bailey’s circus, billed as “the greatest show on earth.” Robert Wilson’s elegantly written Barnum (Simon & Schuster, $28) spotlights Barnum’s humbugs and hoaxes prior to the circus days, such as the former slave, Joice Heath, he passed off as George Washington’s 161-year-old nursemaid; the Fejee Mermaid, which was part fi sh, part monkey skeleton; and his long tour with five-year-old Charley Stratton dubbed “the little general” and renamed Tom Thumb. Barnum also constructed an Oriental Villa in Connecticut which ultimately burned to the ground, and lectured on temperance reform and money-making, in spite of his own spectacular bankruptcies. Wilson, the author of two previous biographies and editor of The American Scholar, resists the urge to editorialize but his meticulous research speaks for itself. Ultimately, Barnum emerges as complicated, vain, and selfserving, and in the words of one contemporary journalist, "Barnum appears to be a vain elderly man on the best possible terms with himself."

Barnum: An American Life Cover Image
$28.00
ISBN: 9781501118623
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Simon & Schuster - August 6th, 2019

Staff Pick

Sidney Blumenthal, a veteran journalist and former high-level government advisor, has been making impressive progress writing a monumental series on the life of Abraham Lincoln. Volume one, A Self- Made Man, appeared just three years ago and dealt with the first forty years of Lincoln’s life, through his start as a lawyer, deepening interest in politics, growing confidence and skill as a public speaker, marriage to Mary Todd, a stint in the House of Representatives, and return to Springfield in 1849 to practice law. The second volume, Wrestling with His Angel, came out just a year later and focused on the period between 1849 and 1856, a sort of wilderness period for Lincoln after his fi rst exposure to national politics. Now in All the Powers of Earth: The Political Life of Abraham Lincoln, Vol. III 1856-1860 (Simon & Schuster, $35), Blumenthal chronicles Lincoln’s political ascent, culminating in his election to the presidency. This was an extraordinarily tumultuous time in U.S. history, and Blumenthal explores extensively a number of seminal events surrounding Lincoln as he re-enters the political spotlight.

All the Powers of Earth: The Political Life of Abraham Lincoln Vol. III, 1856-1860 Cover Image
$35.00
ISBN: 9781476777283
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Simon & Schuster - September 3rd, 2019

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