Dazzling Stranger [EPUB]

Dazzling Stranger [EPUB]
Dazzling Stranger: Bert Jansch and the British Folk and Blues Revival by Colin Harper
2012 | EPUB | 2.4MB

The guitarists' guitarist and the songwriters' songwriter, the legendary Bert Jansch has influenced stars as diverse as Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, Paul Simon, Sandy Denny, Nick Drake, Donovan, Pete Townshend, Neil Young, Bernard Butler, Beth Orton and Laura Marling. Unassuming, enigmatic and completely focused on his music until his death in October 2011, he remained singularly resilient to the vagaries of fashion, being rediscovered and revered by new generations of artists every few years.

Born in Edinburgh in 1943, Jansch became an inspirational and pioneering figure during Britain's 'folk revival' of the 1960s. In 1967 he formed folk/jazz fusion band Pentangle with John Renbourn and enjoyed international success until they split in 1973, when he returned to a solo career. In Dazzling Stranger, Colin Harper looks at the career Jansch enjoyed, which has secured his standing as one of the true originals of British music.

Steven Spielberg: A Biography [EPUB]

Steven Spielberg: A Biography [EPUB]
Steven Spielberg: A Biography, Second Edition by Joseph McBride
2011 | EPUB | 4.15MB

Until the first edition of Steven Spielberg: A Biography was published in 1997, much about Spielberg's personality and the forces that shaped it had remained enigmatic, in large part because of his tendency to obscure and mythologize his own past. But in this first full-scale, in-depth biography of Spielberg, Joseph McBride reveals hidden dimensions of the filmmaker's personality and shows how deeply personal even his most commercial work has been.

This new edition adds four chapters to Spielberg's life story, chronicling his extraordinarily active and creative period from 1997 to the present, a period in which he has balanced his executive duties as one of the partners in the film studio DreamWorks SKG with a remarkable string of films as a director. Spielberg's ambitious recent work--including Amistad, Saving Private Ryan, A. I. Artifucial Intelligence, Minority Report, The Terminal and Munich--has continually expanded his range both stylistically and in terms of adventurous, often controversial, subject matter.

Steven Spielberg: A Biography brought about a reevaluation of the great filmmaker's life and work by those who viewed him as merely a facile entertainer. This new edition guides readers through the mature artistry of Spielberg's later period in which he manages, against considerable odds, to run a successful studio while maintaining and enlarging his high artistic standards as one of America's most thoughtful, sophisticated, and popular filmmakers.

Young Titan: The Making of Winston Churchill [EPUB]

Young Titan: The Making of Winston Churchill [EPUB]
Young Titan: The Making of Winston Churchill by Michael Shelden
2013 | EPUB | 17.4MB

In modern memory, Winston Churchill remains the man with the cigar and the equanimity among the ruins. Few can remember that at the age of 40, he was considered washed up, his best days behind him. In Young Titan, historian Michael Shelden has produced the first biography focused on Churchill’s early career, the years between 1901 and 1915 that both nearly undid him but also forged the character that would later triumph in the Second World War.

Between his rise and his fall, Churchill built a modern navy, experimented with radical social reforms, survived various threats on his life, made powerful enemies and a few good friends, annoyed and delighted two British monarchs, became a husband and father, took the measure of the German military machine, authorized executions of notorious murderers, and faced deadly artillery barrages on the Western front. Along the way, he learned how to outwit more experienced rivals, how to overcome bureaucratic obstacles, how to question the assumptions of his upbringing, how to be patient and avoid overconfidence, and how to value loyalty.

He also learned how to fall in love. Shelden gives us a portrait of Churchill as the dashing young suitor who pursued three great beauties of British society with his witty repartee, political f lair, and poetic letters. In one of many never-before-told episodes, Churchill is seen racing to a Scottish castle to prepare the heartbroken daughter of the prime minister for his impending marriage.

This was a time of high drama, intrigue, personal courage, and grave miscalculations. But as Shelden shows in this fresh and revealing biography, Churchill’s later success was predicated on his struggles to redeem the promise of his youth.

My Accidental Jihad [EPUB]

My Accidental Jihad [EPUB]
My Accidental Jihad by Krista Bremer
2014 | EPUB | 0.3MB

Fifteen years ago, Krista Bremer would not have been able to imagine her life today: married to a Libyan-born Muslim, raising two children with Arabic names in the American South. Nor could she have imagined the prejudice she would encounter or the profound ways her marriage would change her perception of the world.

But on a running trail in North Carolina, she met Ismail. He was passionate and sincere—and he loved adventure as much as she did. From acquaintances to lovers to a couple facing an unexpected pregnancy, this is the story of two people—a middle-class American raised in California and a Muslim raised by illiterate parents in an impoverished Libyan fishing village—who made a commitment to each other without forsaking their own identities.

It is the story of a bicultural marriage—and aren’t all marriages bicultural? In any marriage, we might discover that our mate is foreign to us, with very different language, memories, and assumptions about home and family. How we respond to difference shapes our world.

Profoundly moving and often funny, this meditation on tolerance explores what it means to open our hearts to another culture and to embrace our own. It is Krista Bremer’s unexpected struggle to reach beyond herself, her accidental Jihad.

Crash: A Mother, a Son, and the Journey from Grief to Gratitude [EPUB]

Crash: A Mother, a Son, and the Journey from Grief to Gratitude [EPUB]
Crash: A Mother, a Son, and the Journey from Grief to Gratitude by Carolyn Roy-Bornstein
2012 | EPUB | 1.31MB

After twenty-five years caring for children as a nurse and a pediatrician, Carolyn Roy-Bornstein finds herself on the other side of the stretcher when her teenage son and his girlfriend are hit by a drunk driver. Gratitude for her son’s survival soon gives way to grief. While initially told Neil’s only injury was a broken leg, she soon learns his brain is bleeding.

Roy-Bornstein is now not the patient’s doctor or nurse, but his mom. The world she so easily navigated in a white coat must now be traversed, understood, and dealt with from the perspective of a parent.

There are many dividing lines in this story: the line that divides the family’s life into events that occurred before the crash and those that faltered in its wake; and the line that separates gratitude that her son is alive from grief for his loss of memory and changed personality. Roy-Bornstein’s years as a “medical insider” give her story authenticity while her newcomer status as the parent of a trauma victim adds poignancy and warmth to this first memoir.

Under Magnolia: A Southern Memoir [EPUB]

Under Magnolia: A Southern Memoir [EPUB]
Under Magnolia: A Southern Memoir by Frances Mayes
2014 | EPUB | 1.64MB

A lyrical and evocative memoir from Frances Mayes, the Bard of Tuscany, about coming of age in the Deep South and the region’s powerful influence on her life.

The author of three beloved books about her life in Italy, including Under the Tuscan Sun and Every Day in Tuscany, Frances Mayes revisits the turning points that defined her early years in Fitzgerald, Georgia. With her signature style and grace, Mayes explores the power of landscape, the idea of home, and the lasting force of a chaotic and loving family.

From her years as a spirited, secretive child, through her university studies—a period of exquisite freedom that imbued her with a profound appreciation of friendship and a love of travel—to her escape to a new life in California, Mayes exuberantly recreates the intense relationships of her past, recounting the bitter and sweet stories of her complicated family: her beautiful yet fragile mother, Frankye; her unpredictable father, Garbert; Daddy Jack, whose life Garbert saved; grandmother Mother Mayes; and the family maid, Frances’s confidant Willie Bell.

Under Magnolia is a searingly honest, humorous, and moving ode to family and place, and a thoughtful meditation on the ways they define us, or cause us to define ourselves. With acute sensory language, Mayes relishes the sweetness of the South, the smells and tastes at her family table, the fragrance of her hometown trees, and writes an unforgettable story of a girl whose perspicacity and dawning self-knowledge lead her out of the South and into the rest of the world, and then to a profound return home.

Neil Armstrong: A Life of Flight [EPUB]

Neil Armstrong: A Life of Flight [EPUB]
Neil Armstrong: A Life of Flight by Jay Barbree
2014 | EPUB | 5.51MB

Much has been written about Neil Armstrong, America’s modern hero and history’s most famous space traveler. Yet shy of fame and never one to steal the spotlight Armstrong was always reluctant to discuss his personal side of events. Here for the first time is the definitive story of Neil’s life of flight he shared for five decades with a trusted friend – Jay Barbree.

Working from 50 years of conversations he had with Neil, from notes, interviews, NASA spaceflight transcripts, and remembrances of those Armstrong trusted, Barbree writes about Neil’s three passions – flight, family, and friends. This is the inside story of Neil Armstrong from the time he flew combat missions in the Korean War and then flew a rocket plane called the X-15 to the edge of space, to when he saved his Gemini 8 by flying the first emergency return from Earth orbit and then flew Apollo-Eleven to the moon’s Sea of Tranquility.

Together Neil and Jay discussed everything, from his love of flying, to the war years, and of course his time in space. The book is full of never-before-seen photos and personal details written down for the first time, including what Armstrong really felt when he took that first step on the moon, what life in NASA was like, his relationships with the other astronauts, and what he felt the future of space exploration should be.

As the only reporter to have covered all 166 American astronaut flights and moon landings Jay knows these events intimately. Neil Armstrong himself said, “Barbree is history’s most experienced space journalist. He is exceptionally well qualified to recall and write the events and emotions of our time.” Through his friendship with Neil and his dedicated research, Barbree brings us the most accurate account of his friend’s life of flight, the book he planned for twenty years.

At Home in the World [EPUB]

At Home in the World [EPUB]
At Home in the World: A Memoir by Joyce Maynard
2013 | EPUB | 1.01MB

Joyce Maynard's memoir At Home in the World is an attempt to make peace with herself. At times, however, it's hard not to see it as an act of war--on her parents and, most notably, on J.D. Salinger. Maynard's account of her year-long relationship with the reclusive writer is the centerpiece of the book and the publicity pivot on which it turns. And how not? She first encountered Salinger when he wrote her a fan letter following her world-weary but not necessarily wordly wise New York Times Magazine cover piece, "An Eighteen Year Old Looks Back on Life." He was then 53 and, as Maynard paraphrases, wanted her "to know that I could be a real writer, if I would just look out for myself, as no other person is likely to." By the time she was 19, she was living with the increasingly controlling Salinger and doing her best to adhere to his regimens, from homeopathy at any price to a mostly macrobiotic diet heavy on frozen peas. (Lamb burgers, formed into patties and then frozen--before being cooked at a dysentery-friendly 150 degrees--also figure heavily.)

What's worse, he does his best to turn the hugely driven young woman into a mistrusting, publicity-shy prig, not to mention helping her perfect her already anorexic bent. Maynard is such a skilled writer that it's hard not to take her side as the relationship falters. In fact, even when it's going well, it's not easy to sympathize with a man whose idea of an endearment is, "I couldn't have made up a character of a girl I'd love better than you." But Maynard is as hard on her younger self as she is on the great man. Though she had published intimate essays since her early teens, and long been feted for her "honesty," it has taken the overachiever many years to realize that she had carefully left out her most personal burdens--her father's alcoholism, her mother's nighttime "snuggling" and overwhelming intrusions, the distance between her and her older sister.

Still, At Home in the World is more than a clearing-house for past parental and amorous wrongs. It's a cautionary tale about using language and the pretense of truth to obscure key realities. One of the many curiosities in this discomfiting book? Salinger dreamt that he and Maynard had a child together: "I saw her face clearly. Her name was Bint." The World War II veteran then looks up the word. "What do you know," he says. "It's archaic British, for little girl." Maynard never, even now, has questioned his definition. In fact, it's slang, used especially in World War II, for prostitute. When Salinger forced the 19-year-old to clear her things out of his New Hampshire house, she was still unaware of the word's force. "On the window of Jerry's bedroom, where the glass is dusty, I write, with my finger, the name of the child we had talked about: BINT."

See also: Salinger by David Shields, Shane Salerno

Between Silk and Cyanide [EPUB]

Between Silk and Cyanide [EPUB]
Between Silk and Cyanide: A Codemaker's War, 1941-1945 by Leo Marks
2013 | EPUB | 0.42MB

At the age of 8, Leo Marks discovered the great game of code-making and -breaking in his father's London bookshop, thanks to a first edition of Poe's The Gold-Bug. At 23, as World War II was being played out in earnest, he hoped to use his strengths for the Allies. But Marks's urgent, witty memoir, Between Silk and Cyanide, begins with his failure to get into British Intelligence's cryptographic department. As everyone else on his course heads off to Bletchley Park ("the promised land"), he is sent to what his sergeant terms "some potty outfit in Baker Street, an open house for misfits." In fact, the Special Operations Executive's mandate was, in Churchill's stirring phrase, to "Set Europe Ablaze," and Marks's was to monitor code security so that agents could could report back as safely as possible. When he arrived, the common wisdom was that it was easiest for men and women in the field to memorize and use well-known poems.

Unfortunately, since the Germans had equal access to the classics--"Reference books," Marks quips, "are jackboots when used by cryptographers"--Marks thought agents should write their own poems (or use his) instead, several of which are cheerily obscene. After all, no son or daughter of the Fatherland could ever know the rest of a verse that began "Is de Gaulle's prick / Twelve inches thick," and continued on in a similar, shall we say, vein. But Marks soon felt that original doggerel was just as dangerous, since even slight misspellings could render messages indecipherable and risk agents' lives. His first solution? WOKs (worked-out keys) printed on silk. An operative would use one key, send the message, and immediately tear off the strip. Marks had a hard time proving that swaths of silk would save his people from swallowing their "optional extra," a cyanide pill. His efforts were dead serious, but often landed him in comic terrain.

In one of the book's great set pieces, Marks visits Colonel Wills--surely the model for Ian Fleming's Q--in order to sort out the best ways to print his code keys. Before solving this minor problem (invisible ink!), Wills showed Marks several new projects--one of which involves an exotic array of dung, courtesy of the London Zoo. This gifted gadgetmeister planned to model life-sized reproductions of these droppings and pack them with explosives, personalized for all parts of Europe, Africa, and Asia. "Once trodden on or driven over (hopefully by the enemy) the whole lot would go off with a series of explosions even more violent than the ones which had produced it," Marks explains.

Despite such larky sentences and sections, the author never loses sight of the importance of his vocation, and Between Silk and Cyanide is as elegiac as it is engaging. Marks knows when to cut the laugh track, particularly as his book becomes a despairing record of agents blown--lost to torture, prison, the camps, and execution. Readers will never forget the valor of Violette Szabo, Noor Inayat Kahn, and the White Rabbit himself, Flight Lieutenant Yeo-Thomas. Poem-cracking, as Marks again and again makes clear, was far more than a parlor game.

Projection: Encounters with My Runaway Mother [EPUB]

Projection: Encounters with My Runaway Mother [EPUB]
Projection: Encounters with My Runaway Mother by Priscila Uppal
2014 | EPUB | 1.91MB

In 1977, Priscila Uppal's father drank contaminated water in Antigua and within 48 hours was a quadriplegic. Priscila was two years old. Five years later, her mother, Theresa, drained the family's bank accounts and disappeared to Brazil. After two attempts to abduct her children, Theresa had no further contact with the family.

In 2002, Priscila happened on her mother's website, which featured a childhood photograph of Priscila and her brother. A few weeks later, Priscila summoned the nerve to contact the woman who'd abandoned her.

The emotional reunion was alternately shocking, hopeful, humorous, and devastating, as Priscila came to realize that not only did she not love her mother, she didn't even like her.

Projection is a visceral, precisely written, brutally honest memoir that takes a probing look at a very unusual mother-daughter relationship, yet offers genuine comfort to all facing their own turbulent and unresolved familial relationships.

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