April books


March 31, 2021

Notable new releases

compiled by Sally Brewster

The Bomber Mafia: A Dream, a Temptation, and the Longest Night of the Second World War,
by Malcolm Gladwell

In The Bomber Mafia, Malcolm Gladwell weaves together the stories of a Dutch genius and his homemade computer, a band of brothers in central Alabama, a British psychopath and pyromaniacal chemists at Harvard to examine one of the greatest moral challenges in modern American history. Most military thinkers in the years leading up to World War II saw the airplane as an afterthought. But a small band of idealistic strategists had a different view. This “Bomber Mafia” asked: What if precision bombing could, just by taking out critical choke points — industrial or transportation hubs — cripple the enemy and make war far less lethal? In The Bomber Mafia, Gladwell steps back from the bombing of Tokyo on the deadliest night of the war and asks, “Was it worth it?” 

The Hero Code: Lessons Learned from Lives Well Lived, by Admiral William H. McRaven

Admiral McRaven’s The Hero Code is a ringing tribute to the real, everyday heroes he’s met over the years — from battlefields to hospitals to college campuses — who are doing their part to save the world. When McRaven was growing up in Texas, he dreamed of being a superhero. He longed to put on a cape and use his superpowers to save the earth from destruction. But as he grew older and traveled the world, he found real heroes everywhere he went — and none of them had superpowers. None of them wore capes or cowls. But they all possessed qualities that gave them the power to help others, to make a difference, to save the world: courage, both physical and moral; humility; a willingness to sacrifice; and a deep sense of integrity.

Broken (in the best possible way), by Jenny Lawson

Lawson is back with a wry and entertaining take on her battle with depression, anxiety and rheumatoid arthritis. She is unrivaled in her ability to use piercing humor and insight to take on heavy subjects. In the chapter “The Things We Do to Quiet the Monsters,” she details the transcranial magnetic-stimulation treatment she underwent to cure her medication-resistant mental-health issues. (“It feels like an invisible chisel drilling holes into your head while you have an ice-cream headache and also you’re paying for it to happen to you.”) The beauty of these essays lies in Lawson’s unfailing hopefulness amid her trials. “After all,” she notes, “we are changed by life… it puts its teeth in us… makes us who we are.”

When the Stars Go Dark, by Paula McLain

Anna Hart is a seasoned missing-persons detective in San Francisco with far too much knowledge of the darkest side of human nature. When tragedy strikes her personal life, Anna flees to the northern California village of Mendocino to grieve. She lived there as a child with her beloved foster parents, and now she believes it might be the only place left for her. Yet the day she arrives, she learns that a local teenage girl has gone missing. The crime feels frighteningly reminiscent of the most crucial time in Anna’s childhood, when the unsolved murder of a young girl touched Mendocino and changed the community forever. Weaving together actual cases of missing persons, trauma theory and a hint of the metaphysical, this propulsive and deeply affecting novel tells a story of fate and redemption.

Hype: How Scammers, Grifters, and Con Artists are Taking Over the Internet — and Why We’re Following,
by Gabrielle Bluestone

We live in an age where scams are the new normal. A charismatic entrepreneur sells thousands of tickets to a festival that never happened. Respected investors pour millions into a startup centered around fake blood tests. Reviewers and celebrities flock to London’s top-rated restaurant that is little more than a backyard shed. These unsettling stories of today’s viral grifters have risen to fame and hit the front-page headlines, yet the curious conundrum remains: Why do these scams happen? Drawing from scientific research, marketing campaigns and exclusive documents and interviews, former Vice reporter Gabrielle Bluestone delves into the irresistible hype that fuels our social-media ecosystem. Hype pulls back the curtain on the manipulation game behind the never-ending scam season — and how we as consumers can stop getting played.  SP

Sally Brewster is the proprietor of Park Road Books, located at 4139 Park Road. parkroadbooks.com.

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