Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Bestsellers sure to interst anyone are @ your library

Fifth Avenue, : Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany's, and the Dawn of the Modern Woman by Sam Wasson
Kirkus Reviews –

Behind the scenes of the cinema's gold standard for sparkling romantic comedy. In this slim, fast-paced volume, Wasson (A Splurch in the Kisser: The Films of Blake Edwards, 2009) presents an irresistibly gossipy account of the production of Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961), charting the transformation of actress Audrey Hepburn into an icon of emerging sexual liberation-the good/bad girl, the lovable "kook," independent and sexually experienced but sufficiently charming to bring home to mother. Rich in incident and set among the glitterati of America's most glamorous era, the book reads like a novel.

Hepburn's "discovery" by the regal French author Colette, searching for an actress to incarnate her character Gigi on the stage, has the fairy-tale resonance of the actress' star-making turns in Roman Holiday (1953) and Sabrina (1954). Breakfast at Tiffany's was a tricky proposition for a film adaptation. The novel's sexually progressive elements were severely at odds with Hollywood's notions of acceptable content. Truman Capote lobbied for pal Marilyn Monroe to play the part of party girl Holly Golightly-and, startlingly, expressed wishes to play the male lead himself-but Monroe's image was too sexual for such delicate material, and the part went instead to the girlish Hepburn, a doe-eyed ingenue convinced she could not do justice to the part. Other players in the Wasson's narrative include writer George Axelrod, frustrated by the neutering of his previous screenplays and eager to get a sophisticated, adult sex comedy on screen; up-and-coming director Blake Edwards, witty and enthusiastic but nobody's first choice for the job; male lead George Peppard, disliked and mocked by the rest of the company for his method-acting pretensions and general arrogance; and composer Henry Mancini, whose jazzy score ushered in a sea change for movie music and whose classic song "Moon River" was nearly cut at the 11th hour by a producer who preferred more traditional Broadway fare.

Wasson marshals this rich material in a page-turning delight. Even if his assertions of the movie's sociological significance don't fully convince, he has assembled a sparkling time capsule of old Hollywood magic and mythmaking. As infectious as Mancini's score, and sure to please lovers of classic American cinema.

Three and Out: Rich Rodriguez and the Michigan Wolverines in the Crucible of College Football by John U. Bacon

Amazon Review –

“John U. Bacon’s Three and Out [is] an epic piece of reporting behind the scenes of a college football program going to hell.” —New York Magazine
“Rich Rodriguez never had a chance as coach of the Michigan Wolverines. He showed up with a glowing resume and got himself eaten alive. John Bacon’s account of Rodriguez’s epic failure is a cautionary tale for anyone who doesn’t realize that being a major college football coach requires one to be part CEO, part psychologist, part carny barker, and all crazy.” —Charles P. Pierce, author of Moving The Chains: Tom Brady and the Pursuit Of Everything

“College basketball has Season on the Brink. High school football has Friday Night Lights. Now college football has Three and Out, which takes you inside the locker room to show you what it’s really like to be a college football coach and player. If it surprised me—and it did—I’m sure it will surprise even hardcore fans. If you care about college football, you’ll want this book.” —Adam Schefter, ESPN

“John U. Bacon is one of the best reporters/writers of my generation. Three and Out proves it. It’s one of the most riveting non-fiction works I've read in years, in any genre. The eyewitness details from the locker room, the sidelines, and the most powerful offices on a college campus are breathtaking. Get this book. You will thank me.” —David Shuster, Emmy Award-winning broadcast journalist

“When, several millennia from now, archeologists excavate American ruins as archeologists have done those of Carthage, they may be mystified by the Big House in Ann Arbor, Michigan. How did this 109,901 seat football emporium come to be connected to an institution of higher education? Or was the connection the other way? Without waiting 2,000 years, readers can join John U. Bacon on his eye-opening, and occasionally jaw-dropping, report on the weird world of college football.” —George F. Will

Top Secret America: The Rise of the New American Security State by Dana Priest and William Arkin
Kirkus Reviews -
A newsworthy examination demonstrating that U.S. government secrecy is eroding civil liberties, busting the federal budget, contributing to deaths in unauthorized wars and spreading paranoia among large portions of the citizenry.

Washington Post reporters Priest (The Mission: Waging War and Keeping Peace with America's Military, 2003) and Arkin (Divining Victory: Airpower in the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah War, 2007, etc.) published the beginnings of this book as a newspaper series during 2010. The authors are meticulous but angry reporters, openly dismissive of the national-security apparatus begun by the federal and state governments at least 100 years ago, then expanded significantly after 9/11. Although President Obama vowed to curtail the national-security state and overall government secrecy in the wake of the Bush administration, Priest and Arkin demonstrate that the current president has abandoned that vow. They calculate that at least 850,000 individuals inside government and within government contractors have received "top secret" security clearances. Untold hundreds of thousands more individuals are cleared to use and abuse secret but not top-secret information. Priest and Arkin reach the sad but unavoidable conclusion that 9/11, combined with other real and threatened incursions by terrorists, has led to an around-the-clock police state. In addition to compelling anecdotes, the authors cite as examples the regular broadcasts of threat warning levels from the Department of Homeland Security, a culture of fear surrounding discussions of al-Qaeda by politicians and the public and budget-busting measures to protect what is unprotectable or perhaps not even in danger.
A mixture of investigative reporting and advocacy journalism that shines light in dark corners but is ultimately depressing because the authors seem convinced that the paranoia and its dangerous offshoots will never dissipate.

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