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Tag: History (1-10 of 16)

Hero Worship: Brad Meltzer takes on Abraham Lincoln, Rosa Parks, and ... Batman

Brad Meltzer has a hang-up about heroes. He keeps looking for real ones.

The thriller novelist (The Inner CircleThe Book of Fate) and conspiracy investigator (the non-fiction History Decoded) has  regularly explored the dynamics of good vs. evil in the comic book world, penning stories about Green Arrow and the Justice League of America. But as the father of three young kids, Meltzer says he started to rethink what it means to be one of the good guys. Superhuman crimefighters may be fun, but they’re fantasy.

As part of a new series of picture books, he decided to focus on real-life iconic leaders, adventurers, and trailblazers. But he found his stories of heroism in an unlikely place — their childhoods.


'The Orphan Master's Son' among 2013 Pulitzer Prize winners

The recipients of the 2013 Pulitzer Prizes, the highly prestigious awards administered by Columbia University each year, were announced on Monday. Honorees for the book awards include stories that range from topical tales of North Korea-U.S. relations to the timeless subject of failed marriages.

The prize for fiction went to The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson, which EW gave an “A” upon its release in early 2012 and later listed among the year’s best fiction. The novel takes place in North Korea, chronicling the life of a man named Pak Jun Do, from his childhood in a state orphanage through a series of adventures and struggles amid rising tensions between North Korea and the U.S. READ FULL STORY

Geek Deep Dive: Writing the 'Star Trek' history book, 'Federation: The First 150 Years'

In my half-dozen years at Entertainment Weekly, I have never received an object as deliciously deep-dish geeky as David A. Goodman’s Federation: The First 150 Years. (Sorry, two-volume, 12 pound graphic novelization of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower. You had a really good run there.)

As any Trekkie has likely ascertained already, Federation (out now) is a history of Star Trek‘s United Federation of Planets — the grand interstellar organization at the heart of Gene Roddenberry’s wagon train to the stars — written as if it really happened, from life on a war-ravaged Earth in the 1990s through the death of James T. Kirk. The book comes with translated historical documents, rare archival artifacts, and a light-up pedestal that features the voice of George Takei as Admiral Hikaru Sulu, commander-and-chief of Starfleet, introducing the reader to the tome before them.

Like I said: Deep. Dish. Geeky. READ FULL STORY

Diana Gabaldon on her favorite and least-favorite books: The EW Book Quiz!


Diana Gabaldon’s latest novel, The Scottish Prisoner (out Nov. 29), continues her epic, wildly popular Lord John series. We gave our signature book quiz to the historical fiction author to see which books make her cry, which ones inspired her to write, and which ones she never reads in public.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What book are you reading now?
DIANA GABALDON: I’m actually reading two or three of them right now. I’m reading The Book of Fungi, which is a life-sized guide to 600 species from around the world by Peter Roberts and Shelley Evans, which is extremely good. I’m reading the World Almanac of the American Revolution and Southern Campaigns of the American Revolution. Those are background research for the book that I’m working on at the moment. For fun, I just finished reading Right Ho, Jeeves, which is a P.G. Wodehouse book.

So you read a mix of nonfiction and fiction, which makes sense for you.
Yeah! In fact, I just picked up Alan Bradley’s brand new book, the fourth Flavia de Luce book I’m Half-Sick of Shadows. I just started that one this morning.

What was your favorite book as a child?
Well, I can’t remember not being able to read. I was told I could read by myself very well at the age of three. The earliest books that I can remember reading myself were Frank Buck’s Jungle books, which are full of rhinoceri and all of that, a couple of the early Oz books, and a picture book, which I remember very, very vividly, the main character of which is a very troglodyte-ish character named Mr. Mixie-Dough, and I don’t remember anything about the story, but I remember the book very vividly because of the images which were very beautiful — sort of primitive but complex images on a black background and vivid colors, and that book just gave me the most intense feeling of beautiful mystery about it. So I always loved it despite the fact that I don’t remember anything about the story itself. It’s called The Baker Man, and it’s actually by Vernon Grant, whose main distinction — other than being a very good artist — is that he’s the person who designed and drew Snap, Crackle, and Pop, the cereal elves. [Laughs] READ FULL STORY

By Our Staff: An excerpt from 'Green River Killer: A True Detective Story'

Ten years ago this month, my dad caught a serial killer.

From 1984 to 2001, my father, Detective Tom Jensen, hunted one of the worst mass murderers in history, Seattle’s so-called Green River Killer, responsible for the strangulation slayings of over 48 women. At first, my father was a member of a task force of detectives. Eventually, and by choice, he became the only detective working the case full-time. He privately referred to the investigation as “The Quest” – the choice of words inspired by the song “The Impossible Dream” from the musical The Man of La Mancha. “Privately,” because Dad rarely talked about the case with the family, never told us what it truly meant to him – not until it was over. In September of 2001, my father, using DNA technology, put a proper name on the Green River Killer: Gary Leon Ridgway, a seemingly mild mannered painter of commercial trucks. Ridgway was arrested in December 2001, and  my father and his colleagues believed they had brought the Green River Killer to justice and brought an end to a nightmare that haunted Seattle for nearly 20 years. But a bizarre endgame still awaited them.

In 2008, I asked my father if I could dramatize his story in a slightly unusual fashion. I love comic books. My father, in fact, introduced me to comics when I was kid. So I wanted to write a graphic novel. The result is called Green River Killer: A True Detective Story, published by Dark Horse Comics. READ FULL STORY

Jacqueline Kennedy interviews: 3 questions for historian Michael Beschloss

In early 1964, Jacqueline Kennedy opened up to historian Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. about life with John F. Kennedy, only months after his assassination. In a series of seven interviews, Mrs. Kennedy, known for her singular style, manners, and poise, offered up “tart commentary on former presidents, heads of state, her husband’s aides, powerful women, women reporters, even her mother-in-law,” according to The New York Times. With today’s release of Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy, we get to learn private details about the iconic couple’s life from a surprisingly candid, sharply opinionated Mrs. Kennedy in written and audio form. Historian Michael Beschloss pored over and annotated the 8.5 hours of interview, in addition to writing the book’s introduction. We asked Beschloss a few questions about the newly released recordings, which had been sealed for 47 years. READ FULL STORY

Pulitzer Prizes announced for 2011: Jennifer Egan's novel 'A Visit from the Goon Squad' and Bruce Norris' play 'Clybourne Park' among winners


Jennifer Egan’s novel A Visit from the Goon Squad, a sprawling story that pivots from the story of an indie record label owner to a wide network of loosely connected characters, has won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. The Pulitzer board called the book “an inventive investigation of growing up and growing old in the digital age, displaying a big hearted curiosity about cultural change at warp speed.” Jonathan Dee’s The Privileges, about a Manhattan family, and Chang-rae Lee’s The Surrendered, about a North Korean refugee and an American GI, were the finalists. (Notably, Jonathan Franzen’s acclaimed Freedom was not recognized; Franzen’s The Corrections was a Pulitzer finalist in 2002.)

Clybourne Park, a play by Bruce Norris about racially divergent families moving into (and out of) a single suburban home in 1959 and 2009, won the prize for Drama, cited as a “powerful work whose memorable characters speak in witty and perceptive ways to America’s sometimes toxic struggle with race and class consciousness.” Lisa D’Amour’s tragicomedy Detroit and John Guare’s historical comedy A Free Man of Color, were the finalists.

Here’s the full list of winners and finalists for the “Letters, Drama, and Music” categories:  READ FULL STORY

On the Books Mar. 14: Tina Fey and Steve Martin's joint show, James Frey's controversial Messiah, and more

Tina Fey and Steve Martin are putting on a show together in Los Angeles April 19th to talk about their books. Unlike lower profile authors who often have to road-trip to near-empty bookstores to hock their tomes, Fey and Martin will be gracing the Nokia Theater stage for a paying audience (tickets are on sale for $29 to $119). Martin will be talking about his art world novel An Object of Beauty, and Fey will be promoting her highly anticipated Bossypants.

If he can survive a verbal beatdown from Oprah, he can survive anything: James Frey clearly isn’t afraid of controversy. His new book, The Final Testament of the Holy Bible, centers on the second coming of Christ, only his Messiah is a pot-smoking, prostitute-soliciting alcoholic from the Bronx. Yikes–let the firestorm begin!


President Obama pens children's book

of-thee-i-singImage Credit: Janet Mayer/PR PhotosHe’s leader of the free world–and a now he’s a children’s book author, too. Random House will publish President Barack Obama’s Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters on November 16. The book, illustrated by award-winning author and illustrator Loren Long, pays homage to 13 groundbreaking Americans including George Washington, Jackie Robinson, and Georgia O’Keefe.

Random House declined to comment, but president and publisher Chip Gibson said in a press release he was honored to publish the book: “[It’s] an inspiring marriage of words and images, history and story. Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters celebrates the characteristics that unite all Americans–the potential to pursue our dreams and forge our own paths.”

Obama, inspired by his daughters Sasha and Malia, completed the manuscript for Of Thee I Sing before entering office in 2009. The best part of the book’s release? All proceeds from the sale of the book will be donated to a scholarship fund for the children of fallen and disabled soldiers serving our nation.

Will you be buying this book for your kids, Shelf Lifers? And any guesses as to who the other 10 Americans are acknowledged in the book? And anyone else now have My Country, ‘Tis of Thee now stuck in their head? Share them in the comments.

Is Nelson Mandela's memoir 'Conversations With Myself' Oprah's new book club pick?

Conversations-with-MyselfOprah Winfrey won’t officially announce her 64th book club selection until Sept. 17, but I have a sneaking suspicion that it will be Conversations With Myself, a memoir of Nobel winner Nelson Mandela assembled from journals, diaries, letters, and records of private conversations that he kept over the course of his storied life as an activist turned prisoner turned president of South Africa. A rep for the book had no comment, but here’s my thinking:

The subject matter seems very Oprah-friendly. The talk-show giant has a long-standing connection to Africa, where she’s built several schools for girls. And she’s selected several African-themed books for her club before, including Alan Paton’s novel Cry, the Beloved Country and Uwem Akpan’s story collection Say You’re One of Them (her 2009 selection).

It’s a memoir by an historical figure, with a presidential imprimatur to boot. We know that Oprah has a thing for memoirs by famous people recounting historical events, from Elie Weisel’s Night to Sidney Poitier’s The Measure of a Man. (Best not to mention her brief, much-regretted dalliance with a memoir by a regular joe named James Frey.) Mandela’s book already boasts a foreword by Barack Obama, which may make an Oprah endorsement seem like just so much frosting on the best-seller cake.

The timing and the price are right. Conversations is due to be published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux on Oct. 11, just a few weeks after the book club announcement, so mass-shipping the title a week or two early wouldn’t be a logistical challenge. Plus, the book retails for $28 — and we already know from booksellers that the new pick is a $28 book from FSG parent Macmillan (which suggests that it’s a new release that’s not a title already available in paperback).

After scouring online book retailers, I turned up roughly a dozen titles from Macmillan imprints such as Henry Holt and Farrar, Straus and Giroux that retail at that price. (Another Macmillan imprint, St. Martin’s, generally doesn’t price books at even dollar amounts.) One of FSG’s $28 books, as other commentators have noted, is Jonathan Franzen’s much-ballyhooed novel Freedom. But after Winfrey’s fallout with the author over The Corrections nine years ago, the chance of her choosing Freedom seems about as likely as Nicholas Sparks winning the Nobel Prize for Literature. Other $28 Macmillan titles include: Wait for Me!, a memoir by Deborah Mitford, Duchess of Devonshire; Joan Biskupic’s American Original, a biography of Antonin Scalia; Mark Wyman’s Hoboes; James Schuyler’s poetry collection Other Flowers; and Michael Caine’s memoir The Elephant of Hollywood.

I’m sticking with my guess: This fall, a lot of us will be reading a lot about the anti-apartheid movement, the prison on Robben Island, and the struggle for true democracy in South Africa.

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