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Can I Keep My Jersey?: 11 Teams, 5 Countries, and 4 Years in My Life as a Basketball Vagabond by Paul Shirley
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Talk of the Nation: Traveling Basketball Pro Tells His Tale
He’s been called a journeyman. Even Paul wouldn’t dispute that classification. Regardless, Bill Simmons, ESPN.com’s “The Sports Guy,” has said of Paul Shirley, “We could finally have an answer to the question ‘What would it be like if one of our friends was an NBA player?”
There’s no denying that Paul Shirley is the closest thing pro basketball’s got to Odysseus. In Homeric fashion, he has logged time practically everywhere in the roundball universe, from six NBA cities to pro leagues in Spain and Greece to North America’s pro ball Siberia, the minor leagues. Hell, he’s even played in the real Siberia. And in Can I Keep My Jersey?, Shirley finally puts down roots long enough to deliver one of the great locker-room chronicles of the modern age.
With sharp elbows and an even sharper wit, Shirley–whose writings have been described as “wildly entertaining” by The Wall Street Journal–drops hilarious commentary, revealing which teams have the best cheerleaders (he’s spent many a time-out watching them ply their trade), why Christ is rapidly becoming every team’s “sixth man,” and even the best ways to get bloodstains out of your game uniform, using only an ordinary bar of soap and a hotel bathroom sink.
From sharing the court with Kobe and Shaq to perusing the food court at some mall in a bush-league burg; from taking pregame layups to getting laid out by a stray knee from an NBA power forward; from hopping a limo to the team’s charter jet to dashing to catch the van home from a B-league game in Tijuana, Shirley dishes on what it’s like to try to make it as a professional athlete. Can I Keep My Jersey? is a rollicking, thoughtful, even thought-provoking insider’s look at a pro baller’s life on the fringe. Like Jim Bouton’s Ball Four or John Feinstein’s A Season on the Brink, Shirley’s odyssey deserves to find a home on every sports fan’s bookshelf.
Within Arm’s Length: A Secret Service Agent’s Definitive Inside Account of Protecting the President by Dan Emmett
Morning Edition: Security Lapses Trigger Questions About What Secret Service Agents Do
A rare inside look at the Secret Service from an agent who provided protection worldwide for President George H. W. Bush, President William Clinton, and President George W. Bush
Dan Emmett was just eight years old when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. The events surrounding the President’s death shaped the course of young Emmett’s life as he set a goal of becoming a US Secret Service agent—one of a special group of people willing to trade their lives for that of the President, if necessary.
Within Arm’s Length is a revealing and compelling inside look at the Secret Service and the elite Presidential Protective Division (PPD). With stories from some of the author’s more high-profile assignments in his twenty-one years of service, where he provided arm’s length protection worldwide for Presidents George Herbert Walker Bush, William Jefferson Clinton, and George W. Bush, both as a member of the PPD and the Counter Assault Team, Dan Emmett describes the professional, physical and emotional challenges faced by Secret Service agents. Included are never before discussed topics such as the complicated relationship between presidents, first ladies and their agents, the inner workings of Secret Service protective operations as well as the seldom-mentioned challenges of the complex Secret Service cultural issues faced by an agent’s family. Within Arm’s Length also shares firsthand details about conducting presidential advances, dealing with the media, driving the President in a bullet-proof limousine, running alongside him through the streets of Washington, and flying with him on Air Force One.
Within Arm’s Length is the essential book on the United States Secret Service. This revealing and compelling inside look at the Presidential Protective Division, along with spellbinding stories from the author’s career, gives the reader an unprecedented look in to the life and career of an agent in America’s most elite law enforcement agency.
Not My Father’s Son: A Memoir by Alan Cumming
Weekend Edition: Actor Alan Cumming Is Not His ‘Father’s Son’
In his unique and engaging voice, the acclaimed actor of stage and screen shares the emotional story of his complicated relationship with his father and the deeply buried family secrets that shaped his life and career.
A beloved star of stage, television, and film—“one of the most fun people in show business” (Time magazine)—Alan Cumming is a successful artist whose diversity and fearlessness is unparalleled. His success masks a painful childhood growing up under the heavy rule of an emotionally and physically abusive father—a relationship that tormented him long into adulthood.
When television producers in the UK approached him to appear on a popular celebrity genealogy show in 2010, Alan enthusiastically agreed. He hoped the show would solve a family mystery involving his maternal grandfather, a celebrated WWII hero who disappeared in the Far East. But as the truth of his family ancestors revealed itself, Alan learned far more than he bargained for about himself, his past, and his own father.
With ribald humor, wit, and incredible insight, Alan seamlessly moves back and forth in time, integrating stories from his childhood in Scotland and his experiences today as a film, television, and theater star. At times suspenseful, deeply moving, and wickedly funny, Not My Father’s Son will make readers laugh even as it breaks their hearts.
Bad Paper: Chasing Debt from Wall Street to the Underworld by Jake Halpern
Fresh Air: 'Bad Paper' Explores The Underworld Of Debt Collection
NPR: Amid The Chaos Of Debt Collection, ‘Bad Paper’ Offers A Riveting Roadmap
The Federal Trade Commission receives more complaints about rogue debt collecting than about any activity besides identity theft. Dramatically and entertainingly, Bad Paper reveals why. It tells the story of Aaron Siegel, a former banking executive, and Brandon Wilson, a former armed robber, who become partners and go in quest of “paper”—the uncollected debts that are sold off by banks for pennies on the dollar. As Aaron and Brandon learn, the world of consumer debt collection is an unregulated shadowland where operators often make unwarranted threats and even collect debts that are not theirs.
Introducing an unforgettable cast of strivers and rogues, Jake Halpern chronicles their lives as they manage high-pressure call centers, hunt for paper in Las Vegas casinos, and meet in parked cars to sell the social security numbers and account information of unsuspecting consumers. He also tracks a “package” of debt that is stolen by unscrupulous collectors, leading to a dramatic showdown with guns in a Buffalo corner store. Along the way, he reveals the human cost of a system that compounds the troubles of hardworking Americans and permits banks to ignore their former customers. The result is a vital exposé that is also a bravura feat of storytelling.
Berlin Now: The City After the Wall by Peter Schneider
All Things Considered: Berlin Wears The Scars Of Its Past All Over
A smartly guided romp, entertaining and enlightening, through Europe’s most charismatic and enigmatic city
It isn’t Europe’s most beautiful city, or its oldest. Its architecture is not more impressive than that of Rome or Paris; its museums do not hold more treasures than those in Barcelona or London. And yet, when citizens of “New York, Tel Aviv, or Rome ask me where I’m from and I mention the name Berlin,” writes Peter Schneider, “their eyes instantly light up.”
Berlin Now is a longtime Berliner’s bright, bold, and digressive exploration of the heterogeneous allure of this vibrant city. Delving beneath the obvious answers—Berlin’s club scene, bolstered by the lack of a mandatory closing time; the artistic communities that thrive due to the relatively low (for now) cost of living—Schneider takes us on an insider’s tour of this rapidly metamorphosing metropolis, where high-class soirees are held at construction sites and enterprising individuals often accomplish more without public funding—assembling a makeshift club on the banks of the Spree River—than Berlin’s officials do.
Schneider’s perceptive, witty investigations on everything from the insidious legacy of suspicion instilled by the East German secret police to the clashing attitudes toward work, food, and love held by former East and West Berliners have been sharply translated by Sophie Schlondorff. The result is a book so lively that readers will want to jump on a plane—just as soon as they’ve finished their adventures on the page.
Eat More Better: How to Make Every Bite More Delicious by Dan Pashman
Morning Edition: Friction Can Save Your Sandwich, And Other Tips For Better Bites
As creator of the WNYC podcast The Sporkful and host of the Cooking Channel web series You’re Eating It Wrong, Dan Pashman is obsessed with doing just that. Eat More Better weaves science and humor into a definitive, illustrated guidebook for anyone who loves food. But this book isn’t for foodies. It’s for eaters.
In the bestselling tradition of Alton Brown’s Good Eats and M.F.K. Fisher’s The Art of Eating, Pashman analyzes everyday foods in extraordinary detail to answer some of the most pressing questions of our time, including: Is a cheeseburger better when the cheese is on the bottom, closer to your tongue, to accentuate cheesy goodness? What are the ethics of cherry-picking specific ingredients from a snack mix? And what role does surface-area-to-volume ratio play in fried food enjoyment and ice cube selection?
Written with an infectious blend of humor and smarts, Eat More Better is a tongue-in-cheek textbook that teaches readers to eat for maximum pleasure. Chapters are divided into subjects like engineering, philosophy, economics, and physical science, and feature hundreds of drawings, charts, and infographics to illustrate key concepts like The Porklift—a bacon lattice structure placed beneath a pancake stack to elevate it off the plate, thus preventing the bottom pancake from becoming soggy with syrup and imbuing the bacon with maple-based deliciousness.
Eat More Better combines Pashman’s award-winning writing with his unparalleled field research, collected over thirty-seven years of eating at least three times a day. It delivers entertaining, fascinating, and practical insights that will satisfy your mind and stomach, and change the way you look at food forever.
Worthy Fights: A Memoir of Leadership in War and Peace by Leon Panetta, Jim Newton
Morning Edition: Panetta: Fight Against Terrorism Will Be A Long, Sustained War
The man who led the intelligence war that killed Osama bin Laden traces a life of leadership in public service, from his tenure in Congress through his years as director of the CIA and Secretary of Defense.
The End of Greatness: Why America Can’t Have (and Doesn’t Want) Another Great President by Aaron David Miller
All Things Considered: Historian: FDR Was The Last Great President. Let’s Never Have Another
The Daily Circuit: Who lost Iraq?
A political adviser to secretaries of state of both parties discusses how the expectation of greatness in our presidents has made it nearly impossible to be a “good” president in modern times.
Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie
NPR: 'Ancillary Sword' Examines Life On The Fringes Of A Galactic Empire
A sequel to the Nebula, British Science Fiction, Locus and Arthur C. Clarke Award-winning Ancillary Justice finds warship weapon-turned-soldier Breq journeying with a troublesome crew to Athoek Station to protect the family of a lieutenant she once murdered.
Little Failure: A Memoir by Gary Shteyngart
Fresh Air: 'You Can't Be This Furry' And Other Life Lessons From Gary Shteyngart
All Things Considered: Gary Shteyngart’s ‘Little Failure’ Is An Unambivalent Success
The award-winning author of Super Sad True Story traces his uproarious experiences as a young bullied Jewish-Russian immigrant in Queens, his haphazard college pursuits and his initial forays into a literary career.
The Birth of the Pill: How Four Crusaders Reinvented Sex and Launched a Revolution by Jonathan Eig
Fresh Air: The Great Bluff That Led To A ‘Magical’ Pill And A Sexual Revolution
Documents the pivotal contributions of a feminist birth-control campaigner, a wealthy schizophrenic’s wife, a disgraced Harvard scientist, and a boundary-breaking Catholic doctor in the development of the birth-control pill.
A Chosen Exile: A History of Racial Passing in American Life by Allyson Hobbs
All Things Considered: 'A Chosen Exile': Black People Passing In White America
Between the eighteenth and mid-twentieth centuries, countless African Americans passed as white, leaving behind families and friends, roots and community. It was, as Allyson Hobbs writes, a chosen exile, a separation from one racial identity and the leap into another. This revelatory history of passing explores the possibilities and challenges that racial indeterminacy presented to men and women living in a country obsessed with racial distinctions. It also tells a tale of loss.
As racial relations in America have evolved so has the significance of passing. To pass as white in the antebellum South was to escape the shackles of slavery. After emancipation, many African Americans came to regard passing as a form of betrayal, a selling of one’s birthright. When the initially hopeful period of Reconstruction proved short-lived, passing became an opportunity to defy Jim Crow and strike out on one’s own.
Although black Americans who adopted white identities reaped benefits of expanded opportunity and mobility, Hobbs helps us to recognize and understand the grief, loneliness, and isolation that accompanied—and often outweighed—these rewards. By the dawning of the civil rights era, more and more racially mixed Americans felt the loss of kin and community was too much to bear, that it was time to “pass out” and embrace a black identity. Although recent decades have witnessed an increasingly multiracial society and a growing acceptance of hybridity, the problem of race and identity remains at the center of public debate and emotionally fraught personal decisions.
Lila: A Novel by Marilynne Robinson
Morning Edition: In ‘Lila,’ A Nomad Finds Solace And Love In The Arms Of A Preacher
Triggering a romance and debate by seeking shelter in a church and becoming a minister’s wife, homeless Lila reflects on her hardscrabble life on the run with a canny young drifter and her efforts to reconcile her painful past with her husband’s gentle Christian worldview. By the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Gilead.
The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil by Stephen Collins
NPR: A Hairy, Sardonic Fable In ‘The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil’
The fastidious life of clean-shaven Dave is upended on a fateful day when he grows an unstoppable, impressive beard, in a darkly comic, award-winning meditation on life, death and what it means to be different.
The Hospital Suite by John Porcellino
NPR: Simple Sketches Of A Complicated Cure In ‘The Hospital Suite’
The Hospital Suite is a landmark work by the celebrated cartoonist and small-press legend John Porcellino—an autobiographical collection detailing his struggles with illness in the 1990s and early 2000s.
In 1997, John began to have severe stomach pain. He soon found out he needed emergency surgery to remove a benign tumor from his small intestine. In the wake of the surgery, he had numerous health complications that led to a flare-up of his preexisting tendencies toward anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder. The Hospital Suite is Porcellino’s response to these experiences—simply told stories drawn in the honest, heart-wrenching style of his much-loved King-Cat mini-comics. His gift for spare yet eloquent candor makes The Hospital Suite an intimate portrayal of one person’s experiences that is also intensely relatable.
Porcellino’s work is lauded for its universality and quiet, clear-eyed contemplation of everyday life. The Hospital Suite is a testimony to this subtle strength, making his struggles with the medical system and its consequences for his mental health accessible and engaging.