In the News, November 2014
Posted 11.19.14: The Man Who Would Not Be Washington: Robert E. Lee's Civil War and His Decision that Changed American History by Jonathan Horn gets a starred review from Library Journal: "Horn's thematic biography captures the many facets of Robert E. Lee's crowded life…. Embedded throughout this fine work are adroit comparisons between George Washington and Lee. The author's superb epilog traces the subsequent unsuccessful attempts to tie Lee to the Washington legacy…. A seminal contribution of significant historiographical value."
Posted 11.15.14: Publishers Weekly on The Man Who Would Not Be Washington: Robert E. Lee's Civil War and His Decision that Changed American History by Jonathan Horn: "Robert E. Lee was frequently compared to George Washington, not only because of his personality and 'military genius' but also because he married Washington's granddaughter, and his father had a close relationship with the Founding Father. But at the start of the Civil War, … Lee rejected the Union and loyally followed Virginia into the Confederacy, despite his personal opposition to secession. Horn, a former White House speechwriter, puts a captivating spin on Lee's story by comparing and contrasting the two great men. Detailed yet accessible descriptions of battles are coupled with stories of Lee's personal life, revealing a man as complex as the war he reluctantly joined. Horn also points out the reverence for Washington during this time, and the way each side claimed him as their own…. Horn takes a fair and equitable approach to Lee, his life, and his struggle over participation in a war that tore apart the nation."
Posted 11.14.14: Measure of a Man: From Auschwitz Survivor to Presidents' Tailor, by Martin Greenfield and Wynton Hall, has been featured on Mark Levin's radio show, where the host called it a "remarkable book" and read a portion of it live on-air. The New York Post ran an excerpt, and Business Insider, The Daily Mail, Women's Wear Daily, Vanity Fair Daily, The Washington Post, and Breitbart News have all done features as well.
Posted 11.12.14: Kirkus Reviews on Jonathan Horn's forthcoming The Man Who Would Not Be Washington: Robert E. Lee's Civil War and His Decision that Changed American History: “A romantic, rueful portrait of the Confederate general and the fatal decision that shut him out of history. Former White House speechwriter Horn finds Robert E. Lee a deeply sympathetic American hero whom fortune seemed to have favored as heir to George Washington, if only Lee had thrown his lot with the Union rather than the South…. The author tracks Lee's rigorous antebellum loyalty to the Union… Lee's tortured decision to resign from the Union Army rather than fight against his home state resulted in the loss of his homestead; ironically, it would become a national cemetery for the young men he sent to their deaths. Compelling research.” The Bookspan Bookclub has selected the book for their February catalog.
Posted 11.05.14: Publishers Weekly reviews the Best American Poetry 2014, Series Editor David Lehman, Guest Editor Terrance Hayes: "Hayes, a 2014 MacArthur Fellow whose 2010 collection, Lighthead, won the National Book Award for poetry, recalls that the first book of poetry he ever bought was the 1990 edition of Best American Poetry. Given that he has ‘depended on [the series] so deeply for literally all of his life as a poet,' it's not surprising that Hayes has applied such a discerning eye in selecting poems for this year's edition…. One of the strongest volumes in recent years."
Posted 10.13.14: Terry Teachout's Duke: A Life of Duke Ellington, has just won an ASCAP Foundation Deems Taylor/Virgil Thomson Award for “outstanding print, broadcast and news media coverage of music.” As the award announcement says, "The Timothy White Award for Outstanding Musical Biography in the pop music field recognizes Duke: A Life of Duke Ellington, written by Terry Teachout and published by Gotham Books."
Posted 09.19.14: “A High Volume of Poetic Greatness…. Last November, while on a West Coast poetry reading tour, I stayed for a few days at my friend Beverly's San Francisco home.... Serendipitously, the guest room doubles as the Poetry Room, everything alphabetized and divided into categories and sub-categories. It was there that I discovered the Best American Poetry series in its entirety. I had come across a volume or two and was already an admirer of the work of the Senior Editor, David Lehman, but never before had I had access to all twenty-five volumes. Jet lagged and bleary eyed, I stayed up as long as possible, devouring volume after volume. The next afternoon I was still at it, vaguely annoyed when I had to stop and attend my own reading…. What I will attest to, in all of these volumes, including the current one, is that there is brilliance, there is innovation, there are surprises…. David Lehman's early practice of writing forewords has evolved into a ‘state of the art' statement..”—Puma Perl, Chelsea News, on the Best American Poetry 2014 (Guest Editor, current MacArthur Fellowship prize-winner Terrance Hayes)
Posted 08.15.14: The Sunday New York Times Book Review on The Seven Sins of Wall Street: Big Banks, Their Washington Lackeys, and the Next Financial Crisis by Bob Ivry: "Even five years after the financial crisis of 2008-9 crested, there is zero consensus about its causes. Just about anyone who can be blamed has been: rapacious bankers, venal elected officials, corrupt or incompetent regulators, naïve home buyers. Ivry, an editor and reporter at Bloomberg News, is clear where he stands: The culprit was 'the unprecedented growth of the biggest banks' and the subsequent bailout that saved those banks but left the rest of us in little better shape. This is an angry book, full of high dudgeon about the various sins of Wall Street that give Ivry his title. He documents the absurdity of 'too big to fail' with a reporter's eye for the small story that illuminates the larger picture…. Ivry sees the crisis as a simple story of wrongdoing and the failure to punish it."—Zachary Karabell
Posted 07.23.14: “Nicholas Basbanes is something of a national treasure, bringing what is often called ‘book culture' in front of us. In an age of the digital page, when books can be downloaded, when e-mail and twitter are developing a distinctive lexicon and rhetoric, when the book itself seems to be on its way out of our private and public culture, Basbanes returns us, again and again, to the importance of paper, as we knew it, know it, and, hopefully, shall maintain it. On Paper: The Everything of Its Two-Thousand-Year History celebrates that ubiquitous commodity, and its manifold uses. This book is characteristically engaging and authoritative.”—Lewis Fried, The Key Reporter
Posted 07.18.14: David Lehman's foreword to the Best American Poetry 2014 is featured as the centerfold essay in this Sunday's New York Times Book Review, "Sing to Me, O Muse (But Keep It Brief)".
Posted 07.07.14: “Romm gives us a fresh and empathetic exploration…a robust framework for his quest about the truth of Seneca…. He does not judge Seneca with hindsight, but inhabits his life as it plays out. There are subtle and sympathetic observations…. But when there is analysis, it brings real clarity. Indeed there are moments of brilliance. The philosophical torment of the later years and the drama of Seneca's tripartite death once Nero turned against him are dealt with masterfully…. Romm reminds us that we need to care about Seneca—he is a touchstone for the modern world.”—Bettany Hughes in the New York Times Book Review on Dying Every Day: Seneca at the Court of Nero by James Romm.
Posted 06.26.14: Film/TV rights to James Romm's gripping history Ghost on the Throne: The Death of Alexander the Great and the War for Crown and Empire have been optioned by James Lassiter of Overbrook Entertainment.
Posted 05.21.14: Dying Every Day: Seneca at the Court of Nero is “a splendid and incisive historical page-turner. James Romm crafts a tale of intrigue, deception and intractable captivity to the political machine. This is how history should be written: vivid storytelling springing to life at a master's touch…. In the end, Romm's narrative proves so compelling precisely because he concentrates on character, combining erudite scholarship with a novelist's flair for telling detail.”—Arlice Davenport, The Wichita Eagle
Posted 05.20.14: “Jager is a fine writer attuned to the details that bring medieval France to life…we're galloping madly across the rise of kings and the fall of cities.”—Charles Graeber, The New York Times Book Review, on Blood Royal: A True Tale of Crime and Detection in Medieval Paris
Posted 05.05.14: Terry Teachout is the winner of a 2014 Bradley Prize from the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, which offers awards each year to as many as four individuals for their distinguished contributions to American institutions. The award comes with a cash prize of $250,000 and will be presented in Washington, D.C., on June 18. Terry Teachout is the author of many distinguished books, including Duke: A Life of Duke Ellington, Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong, The Skeptic: A Life of H. L. Mencken, All in the Dances: A Brief Life of George Balanchine, and City Limits: Memories of a Small-Town Boy.
Posted 04.30.14: "Altogether, a very fascinating account, sometimes grisly, but typical of the times."—Kendall Wild in the Rutland Vermont Herald on Eric Jager's Blood Royal: A True Tale of Crime and Detection in Medieval Paris
Posted 04.23.14: "Mr. Romm's sustained reading of Seneca's works in their historical context breathes welcome (Roman) life into them. This is no mean accomplishment…. Mr. Romm is a fluent writer, and Dying Every Day: Seneca at the Court of Nero is a fast-paced read."—Christopher B. Krebs, The Wall Street Journal
Posted 04.17.14: One of “Ten Brilliant Books That Grab You From Page One” Kirkus Reviews names Eric Jager's Blood Royal: A True Tale of Crime and Detection in Medieval Paris
Posted 04.15.14: The New Yorker reviews Dying Every Day: Seneca at the Court of Nero by James Romm in this week's issue: "Romm adeptly expounds the puzzle of the philosopher's life: Seneca, revered for centuries as a pristine moral voice, was despised by many contemporaries as a hypocritical, profiteering lackey. He was Nero's tutor, got rich serving in the Emperor's degraded regime, and may have hoped to be emperor himself. In Nero's purge of the aristocracy, he stood by, then killed himself when death seemed inevitable. Stoicism has a power that outlasted Seneca and Nero; but where, Romm asks, is the line between peace and perversity, complacency and complicity?"
Posted 04.08.14: Logan Beirne is the winner of the 2014 William E. Colby Award for his book, Blood of Tyrants: George Washington and the Forging of the Presidency. The Colby Award recognizes a first work of fiction or non-fiction that has made a significant contribution to the understanding of intelligence operations, military history, or international affairs.