Theres an old Yiddish saying: two people can keep a secret if one of them is dead. But two living people could keep a secret -- as long as one of them was Augie. Augie Ratner, the proprietor of Augie's Theater Lounge & Bar on Hennepin Avenue, was the unofficial mayor of Minneapolis's downtown strip in the 1940s and 50s. In a few blocks between the swanky clubs and restaurants on Eighth Street and the sleazy flophouses and bars of the Gateway District, the city's shakers-and-movers and shake-down artists mingled. Mixing careful research with long suppressed family and community stories, Neal Karlen, Augie's great-nephew, tells the real story of the seamy underside of Minneapolis, where Jewish mobsters controlled the liquor trade, invented the point spread in sports betting, and ran national sports gambling operations. Even after Mayor Hubert H Humphrey supposedly cleaned up the town, organized crime quietly flourished. And Augie was at the center, observing it all.
The week before Thanksgiving 2011, Dustin Smiley left for a yearlong military deployment. Soon after, his son Ford, eleven, invited Senator Susan Collins to fill his dad's chair at dinner. On January 3, 2012, Senator Collins came to dinner ... and brought brownies. So began Dinner with the Smileys, nationally syndicated columnist Sarah Smiley's fifty-two-week commitment to fill her husband's place at the family dinner table with interesting people--from schoolteachers to Olympians, professional athletes to famous authors, comedians to politicians--and unique role models for her three sons, even as she knows Dustin's seat cannot truly be "filled" until he is home again for the fifty-third dinner.
Former NBA star Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway grew up in Binghampton, one of the roughest sections of Memphis. After retirement Penny returned to Memphis and struggled with the question most professional athletes face when their bright-lights careers come to an end: What now? The unexpected answer came from Desmond Merriweather, one of Pennys oldest friends. Desmond had recently been diagnosed with colon cancer and needed someone to replace him as head coach of the Lester Middle School basketball team in the same dangerous neighborhood where Penny grew up. Without hesitating, Penny said, "I'm all in." On These Courts is the moving story of Coach Penny helping his young players navigate their way through impossible circumstances: failing grades, incarcerated fathers, gang pressures, and the crime-ridden streets of Memphis. A story of hope and inspiration, struggle, and triumph, On These Courts reveals the importance and power of taking a stand in a community and learning what it truly means to give back.
On the eve of the Allied invasion, General Dwight Eisenhower empowered a new kind of soldier to protect these historic riches. In May 1944 two unlikely American heroes--artist Deane Keller and scholar Fred Hartt--embarked from Naples on the treasure hunt of a lifetime, tracking billions of dollars of missing art, including works by Michelangelo, Donatello, Titian, Caravaggio, and Botticelli. With the German army retreating up the Italian peninsula, orders came from the highest levels of the Nazi government to transport truckloads of art north across the border into the Reich. Standing in the way was General Karl Wolff, a top-level Nazi officer. As German forces blew up the magnificent bridges of Florence, General Wolff commandeered the great collections of the Uffizi Gallery and Pitti Palace, later risking his life to negotiate a secret Nazi surrender with American spymaster Allen Dulles. Brilliantly researched and vividly written, Saving Italy brings readers from Milan and the near destruction of The Last Supper to the inner sanctum of the Vatican and behind closed doors with the preeminent Allied and Axis leaders: Roosevelt, Eisenhower, and Churchill; Hitler, Goring, and Himmler. An unforgettable story of epic thievery and political intrigue, Saving Italy is a testament to heroism on behalf of art, culture, and history.
Written in a beautiful and engaging style, Seven Men addresses what it means (or should mean) to be a man to day, at a time when media and popular culture present images of masculinity that are not the picture presented in Scripture and historic civil life. What does it take to be a true exemplar as a father, brother, husband, leader,coach, counselor, change agent, and wise man? What does it mean to stand for honesty, courage, and charity, especially at times when the culture and the world run counter to those values? Each of the seven biographies represents the life of a man who experienced the struggles and challenges to be strong in the face of forces and circumstances that would have destroyed the resolve of lesser men. Each of the seven men profiled-George Washington, William Wilberforce, Eric Liddell,Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Jackie Robinson, John Paul II, and Charles Colson-call the reader to a more elevated walk and lifestyle, one that embodies the gospel in the world around us.
In 1994, Anchee Min made her literary debut with a memoir of growing up in China during the violent trauma of the Cultural Revolution. "Red Azalea" became an international bestseller and propelled her career as a successful, critically acclaimed author. Twenty years later, Min returns to the story of her own life to give us the next chapter, an immigrant story that takes her from the shocking deprivations of her homeland to the sudden bounty of the promised land of America, without language, money, or a clear path. It is a hard and lonely road. Min's eventual successes--her writing career, a daughter at Stanford, a second husband she loves--are remarkable, but it is her struggle throughout toward genuine selfhood that elevates this dramatic, classic immigrant story to something powerfully universal.
Happy again, back in the kingdom of light, writes Paul Theroux as he sets out on a new journey through the continent he knows and loves best. Theroux first came to Africa as a twenty-two-year-old Peace Corps volunteer, and the pull of the vast land never left him. Now he returns, after fifty years on the road, to explore the little-traveled territory of western Africa and to take stock both of the place and of himself. Vivid, witty, and beautifully evocative, The Last Train to Zona Verde is a fitting final African adventure from the writer whose gimlet eye and effortless prose have brought the world to generations of readers.
On November 28, 1979, squadron commander and Navy pilot Peter Rodrick died when his plane crashed in the Indian Ocean. He was just thirty-six and had been the commanding officer of his squadron for 127 days. Eight thousand miles away on Whidbey Island, near Seattle, he left behind a grief-stricken wife, two daughters, and a thirteenyear-old son who would grow up to be a writer--one who was drawn, perhaps inevitably, to write about his father, his family, and the devastating consequences of military service. A penetrating, thoughtful blend of memoir and reportage, The Magical Stranger is a moving reflection on the meaning of service and the power of a fathers legacy.
Egypt, The Valley of the Kings, 1905: An American robber baron peers through the hole he has cut in an ancient tomb wall and discovers the richest trove of golden treasure ever seen in Egypt. At the start of the twentieth century, Theodore Davis was the most famous archaeologist in the world; his career turned tomb-robbing and treasure-hunting into a science. Using six of Davis's most important discoveries as a lens around which to focus his quintessentially American rags-to-riches tale, Adams chronicles the dizzying rise of a poor country preachers son who, through corruption and fraud, amassed tremendous wealth in Gilded Age New York and then atoned for his ruthless career by inventing new standards for systematic excavation. Davis found a record eighteen tombs in the Valley and, breaking with custom, gave all the spoils of his discoveries to museums.
More than just the story of a tennis champion, The Outsider is the uncensored account of Connors life, from his complicated relationship with his formidable mother and his storybook romance with tennis legend Chris Evert, to his battles with gambling and fidelity that threatened to derail his career and his long-lasting marriage to Playboy playmate Patti McGuire. When he retired from tennis twenty years ago, Connors all but disappeared from public view. In The Outsider, he is back at the top of his game, and as feisty, outspoken, and defiant as ever.
An inspiring story of how a Mormon kid with Tourette's found salvation in books and weight-lifting. The World's Strongest Librarian illuminates the mysteries of this little-understood disorder, as well as the very different worlds of strongman training and modern libraries. With humor and candor, this unlikely hero traces his journey to overcome his disability— and navigate his wavering Mormon faith—to find love and create a life worth living.
Rachael Hanel’s name was inscribed on a gravestone when she was eleven years old. Yet this wasn’t at all unusual in her world: her father was a gravedigger in the small Minnesota town of Waseca, and death was her family’s business. Her parents were forty-two years old and in good health when they erected their gravestone—Rachael’s name was simply a branch on the sprawling family tree etched on the back of the stone. As she puts it: I grew up in cemeteries.