What’s New – Non-Fiction

Riding the Lightning

“An intense look at the high-stakes world of a NYC paramedic in the months before and after COVID-19 altered our landscape.”Damon Tweedy, MD, author of Black Man in a White Coat: A Doctor’s Reflections on Race and Medicine

The education of a New York City paramedic, whose tales of tragedy and transcendence over a single year culminate in the greatest challenge the city’s emergency medical system has ever faced: COVID-19.

As a seasoned paramedic and union leader, Anthony Almojera thought he could handle anything his job threw at him. Like many medical first responders, he came from a troubled background and carried the traumas of the city as well as its triumphs. He had grown up in the rough-and-tumble Park Slope of the 1980s, been homeless for a time, and had watched murder, addiction, and hopelessness consume those closest to him. But he had dedicated his life to helping people in need, and while every day was filled with tragedy—stabbings, shootings, accidents, suicides—it also brought moments of uplift: births, resuscitations, and rescues that reminded Anthony and his coworkers why EMS was the most thrilling job on earth, even if the pay was lousy and the hours were long.

So when a strange new virus began spreading in New York, Anthony and his fellow medics were ready. They had done the biohazard drills; they knew the procedures, and how to handle the sick and the bereaved. They believed that their lives and training had prepared them for this new challenge. But the months ahead would prove them wrong, and would push New York’s EMS workers, and Anthony himself, to the breaking point—and beyond.

Following one paramedic into hell and back, Riding the Lightning tells the story of New York City’s darkest days through the eyes of its frontline medical workers and the community they serve: ordinary people who will continue to make New York an extraordinary place long after it has been reborn from the ashes of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Corrections in Ink

Corrections in Ink is an electric and unforgettable memoir about a young woman’s journey—from the ice rink, to addiction and a prison sentence, to the newsroom—emerging with a fierce determination to expose the broken system she experienced.

An elite, competitive figure skater growing up, Keri Blakinger poured herself into the sport, even competing at nationals. But when her skating partnership ended abruptly, her world shattered. With all the intensity she saved for the ice, she dove into self-destruction. From her first taste of heroin, the next nine years would be a blur—living on the streets, digging for a vein, selling drugs and sex, eventually plunging off a bridge when it all became too much, all while trying to hold herself together enough to finish her degree at Cornell.

Then, on a cold day during Keri’s senior year, the police stopped her. Caught with a Tupperware container full of heroin, she was arrested and ushered into a holding cell, a county jail, and finally into state prison. There, in the cruel “upside down,” Keri witnessed callous conditions and encountered women from all walks of life—women who would change Keri forever.

Two years later, Keri walked out of prison sober and determined to make the most of the second chance she was given—an opportunity impacted by her privilege as a white woman. She scored a local reporting job and eventually moved to Texas, where she started covering nothing other than: prisons. Now, over her career as an award-winning journalist, she has dedicated herself to exposing the broken system as only an insider could.

Not just a story about getting out and getting off drugs, this rich memoir is about finding redemption within yourself, as well as from the outside world, and the power of second chances. Written in a searing voice, Corrections in Ink is told with unflinching honesty and jolts of irreverent humor, and uncovers a dark and brutal system that affects us all.

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The Power of Crisis

Renowned political scientist Ian Bremmer draws lessons from global challenges of the past 100 years—including the pandemic—to show how we can respond to three great crises unfolding over the next decade.

In this revelatory, unnerving, and ultimately hopeful book, Bremmer details how domestic and international conflicts leave us unprepared for a trio of looming crises—global health emergencies, transformative climate change, and the AI revolution. Today, Americans cannot reach consensus on any significant political issue, and US and Chinese leaders behave as if they’re locked in a new Cold War. We are squandering opportunities to meet the challenges that will soon confront us all.

In coming years, humanity will face viruses deadlier and more infectious than Covid. Intensifying climate change will put tens of millions of refugees in flight and require us to reimagine how we live our daily lives. Most dangerous of all, new technologies will reshape the geopolitical order, disrupting our livelihoods and destabilizing our societies faster than we can grasp and address their implications.

The good news? Some farsighted political leaders, business decision-makers, and individual citizens are already collaborating to tackle all these crises. The question that should keep us awake is whether they will work well and quickly enough to limit the fallout—and, most importantly, whether we can use these crises to innovate our way toward a better world.

Drawing on strategies both time-honored and cutting-edge, from the Marshall Plan to the Green New Deal, The Power of Crisisprovides a roadmap for surviving—even thriving in—the 21st century. Bremmer shows governments, corporations, and every concerned citizen how we can use these coming crises to create the worldwide prosperity and opportunity that 20th-century globalism promised but failed to deliver.

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How the World Really Works

INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

“A new masterpiece from one of my favorite authors… [How The World Really Works] is a compelling and highly readable book that leaves readers with the fundamental grounding needed to help solve the world’s toughest challenges.”Bill Gates

“Provocative but perceptive . . . You can agree or disagree with Smil—accept or doubt his ‘just the facts’ posture—but you probably shouldn’t ignore him.”—The Washington Post

An essential analysis of the modern science and technology that makes our twenty-first century lives possible—a scientist’s investigation into what science really does, and does not, accomplish.

We have never had so much information at our fingertips and yet most of us don’t know how the world really works. This book explains seven of the most fundamental realities governing our survival and prosperity. From energy and food production, through our material world and its globalization, to risks, our environment and its future, How the World Really Works offers a much-needed reality check—because before we can tackle problems effectively, we must understand the facts.

In this ambitious and thought-provoking book we see, for example, that globalization isn’t inevitable—the foolishness of allowing 70 per cent of the world’s rubber gloves to be made in just one factory became glaringly obvious in 2020—and that our societies have been steadily increasing their dependence on fossil fuels, such that any promises of decarbonization by 2050 are a fairy tale. For example, each greenhouse-grown supermarket-bought tomato has the equivalent of five tablespoons of diesel embedded in its production, and we have no way of producing steel, cement or plastics at required scales without huge carbon emissions.

Ultimately, Smil answers the most profound question of our age: are we irrevocably doomed or is a brighter utopia ahead? Compelling, data-rich and revisionist, this wonderfully broad, interdisciplinary guide finds faults with both extremes. Looking at the world through this quantitative lens reveals hidden truths that change the way we see our past, present and uncertain future.

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The Office BFFs

INSTANT #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

An intimate, behind-the-scenes, richly illustrated celebration of beloved The Office co-stars Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey’s friendship, and an insiders’ view of Pam Beesly, Angela Martin, and the iconic TV show. Featuring many of their never-before-seen photos.

Receptionist Pam Beesly and accountant Angela Martin had very little in common when they toiled together at Scranton’s Dunder Mifflin Paper Company. But, in reality, the two bonded in their very first days on set and, over the nine seasons of the series’ run, built a friendship that transcended the show and continues to this day. Sharing everything from what it was like in the early days as the show struggled to gain traction, to walking their first red carpet—plus exclusive stories on the making of milestone episodes and how their lives changed when they became moms—The Office BFFs is full of the same warm and friendly tone Jenna and Angela have brought to their Office Ladies podcast.

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I Was Better Last Night

NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER  A poignant and hilarious memoir from the cultural icon, gay rights activist, and four-time Tony Award-winning actor and playwright, revealing never-before-told stories of his personal struggles and conflict, of sex and romance, and of his fabled career

Harvey Fierstein’s legendary career has transported him from community theater in Brooklyn, to the lights of Broadway, to the absurd excesses of Hollywood and back. He’s received accolades and awards for acting in and/or writing an incredible string of hit plays, films, and TV shows: Hairspray, Fiddler on the Roof, Mrs. Doubtfire, Independence Day, Cheers, La Cage Aux Folles, Torch Song Trilogy, Newsies, and Kinky Boots. While he has never shied away from the spotlight, Mr. Fierstein says that even those closest to him have never heard most of the tales—of personal struggles and conflict, of sex and romance, of his fabled career—revealed in these wildly entertaining minutes.

I Was Better Last Night bares the inner life of this eccentric nonconforming child from his roots in 1952 Brooklyn, to the experimental worlds of Andy Warhol and the Theatre of the Ridiculous, to the gay rights movements of the seventies and the tumultuous AIDS crisis of the eighties, through decades of addiction, despair, and ultimate triumph.

Mr. Fierstein’s candid recollections provide a rich window into downtown New York City life, gay culture, and the evolution of theater (of which he has been a defining figure), as well as a moving account of his family’s journey of acceptance. I Was Better Last Night is filled with wisdom gained, mistakes made, and stories that come together to describe an astonishingly colorful and meaningful life. Lucky for us all, his unique and recognizable voice is just as engaging, outrageously funny, and vulnerable.

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Dilettante

A witty, insightful, and delightfully snarky blend of pop culture meets memoir meets real-life Devil Wears Prada as readers learn the stories behind twenty-five years at Vanity Fair from the magazine’s former deputy editor

Dilettante offers the best seat in the house into the workings of one of the great cultural institutions of our time.”—Buzz Bissinger, New York Times bestselling author of Friday Night Lights

Dana Brown was a twenty-one-year-old college dropout playing in punk bands and partying his way through downtown New York’s early-nineties milieu when he first encountered Graydon Carter, the legendary editor of Vanity Fair. After the two had a handful of brief interactions (mostly with Brown in the role of cater waiter at Carter’s famous cultural salons he hosted at his home), Carter saw what he believed to be Brown’s untapped potential, and on a whim, hired him as his assistant. Brown instantly became a trusted confidante and witness to all of the biggest parties, blowups, and takedowns. From inside the famed Vanity Fair Oscar parties to the emerging world of the tech elite, Brown’s job offered him access to some of the most exclusive gatherings and powerful people in the world, and the chance to learn in real time what exactly a magazine editor does—all while trying to stay sober enough from the required party scene attendance to get the job done. Against all odds, he rose up the ranks to eventually become the magazine’s deputy editor, spending a quarter century curating tastes at one of the most storied cultural shops ever assembled.

Dilettante reveals Brown’s most memorable moments from the halcyon days of the magazine business, explores his own journey as an unpedigreed outsider to established editor, and shares glimpses of some of the famous and infamous stories (and people) that tracked the magazine’s extraordinary run all keenly observed by Brown. He recounts tales from the trenches, including encounters with everyone from Anna Wintour, Lee Radziwill, and Condé Nast owner Si Newhouse, to Seth Rogen, Caitlyn Jenner, and acclaimed journalists Dominick Dunne and Christopher Hitchens.

Written with equal parts affection, cultural exploration, and nostalgia, Dilettante is a defining story within that most magical time and place in the culture of media. It is also a highly readable memoir that skillfully delivers a universal coming-of-age story about growing up and finding your place in the world.

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Wastelands

“Beautifully written, impeccably researched, and told with the air of suspense that few writers can handle, Wastelands is a story I wish I had written.” —From the Foreword by John Grisham

The once idyllic coastal plain of North Carolina is home to a close-knit, rural community that for more than a generation has battled the polluting practices of large-scale farming taking place in its own backyard. After years of frustration and futility, an impassioned cadre of local residents, led by a team of intrepid and dedicated lawyers, filed a lawsuit against one of the world’s most powerful companies—and, miraculously, they won.

As vivid and fast-paced as a thriller, Wastelands takes us into the heart of a legal battle over the future of America’s farmland and into the lives of the people who found the courage to fight.

There is Elsie Herring, the most outspoken of the neighbors, who has endured racial slurs and the threat of a restraining order to tell the story of the waste raining down on her rooftop from the hog operation next door. There is Don Webb, a larger-than-life hog farmer turned grassroots crusader, and Rick Dove, a riverkeeper and erstwhile military judge who has pioneered the use of aerial photography to document the scale of the pollution. There is Woodell McGowan, a quiet man whose quest to redeem his family’s ancestral land encourages him to become a better neighbor, and Dr. Steve Wing, a groundbreaking epidemiologist whose work on the health effects of hog waste exposure translates the neighbors’ stories into the argot of science. And there is Tom Butler, an environmental savant and hog industry insider whose whistleblowing testimony electrifies the jury.

Fighting alongside them in the courtroom is Mona Lisa Wallace, who broke the gender barrier in her small southern town and built a storied legal career out of vanquishing corporate giants, and Mike Kaeske, whose trial skills are second to none.

With journalistic rigor and a novelist’s instinct for story, Corban Addison’s Wastelands captures the inspiring struggle to bring a modern-day monopoly to its knees, to force a once-invincible corporation to change, and to preserve the rights—and restore the heritage—of a long-suffering community.

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Battling the Big Lie

From #1 New York Times bestselling author and cohost of Pod Save America—how to combat political disinformation and dangerous lies of the right-wing propaganda machine.

In BATTLING THE BIG LIE, bestselling author Dan Pfeiffer dissects how the right-wing built a massive, billionaire-funded disinformation machine powerful enough to bend reality and nearly steal the 2020 election. From the perspective of someone who has spent decades on the front lines of politics and media, Pfeiffer lays out how the right-wing media apparatus works, where it came from, and what progressives can do to fight back against disinformation.

Over a period of decades, the right-wing has built a massive media apparatus that is weaponizing misinformation and spreading conspiracy theories for political purposes. ⁠This “MAGA Megaphone”⁠ that is personified by Fox News and fueled by Facebook⁠ is waging war on the very idea of objective truth—and they are winning. This disinformation campaign is how Donald Trump won in 2016, almost won in 2020, and why the United States is incapable of addressing problems from COVID-19 to climate change.

Pfeiffer explains how and why the Republicans have come to depend on culture war grievances, crackpot conspiracies, and truly sinister propaganda as their primary political strategies, including:

  • Republican efforts from Roger Ailes to Steve Bannon and Donald Trump to sow distrust while exploiting the media’s biases and the Democratic Party’s blind spots.
  • The optimization of Facebook as the ultimate carrier of Trumpist messaging.
  • Educating the Left to stop clutching pearls and start “fighting fire with fire.”
  • How to fight back against the trolls spreading disinformation and hate on the Internet.

A functioning democracy depends on a shared understanding of reality. America is teetering on the edge because one of the two parties in our two-party system views truth, facts, and science as their opponent. BATTLING THE BIG LIE is a call to arms for anyone and everyone who cares about truth and democracy. There are no easy answers or quick fixes, but something must be done.

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The Hawk's Way

A splendid and luminous celebration of one of nature’s most perfect and mysterious creatures—the hawk—from the New York Times bestselling author of the “astoundingly beautiful” (NPR) The Soul of an Octopus.

When Sy Montgomery went to spend a day at falconer Nancy Cowan’s farm, home to a dozen magnificent birds of prey, it was the start of a deep love affair. Nancy allowed her to work with Jazz, a feisty, four-year-old, female Harris’s hawk with a wingspan of more than four feet. Not a pet, Jazz was a fierce predator with talons that could pierce skin and bone and yet, she was willing to work with a human to hunt. From the first moment Jazz swept down from a tree and landed on Sy’s leather gloved fist, Sy fell under the hawk’s magnetic spell.

Over the next few years, Sy spent more time with these magnificent creatures, getting to know their extraordinary abilities and instincts. They are deeply emotional animals, quick to show anger and frustration, and can hold a grudge for years. But they are also loyal and intensely aware of their surroundings. In this mesmerizing account, featuring sixteen pages of gorgeous color photographs, Sy passionately and vividly reveals the wonderous world of hawks and what they can teach us about nature, life, and love.

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We Were Dreamers

The star of Marvel’s first Asian superhero film, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, tells his own origin story of being a Chinese immigrant, his battles with cultural stereotypes and his own identity, becoming a TV star, and landing the role of a lifetime.

In this honest, inspiring and relatable memoir, newly-minted superhero Simu Liu chronicles his family’s journey from China to the bright lights of Hollywood with razor-sharp wit and humor.

Simu’s parents left him in the care of his grandparents, then brought him to Canada when he was four. Life as a Canuck, however, is not all that it was cracked up to be; Simu’s new guardians lack the gentle touch of his grandparents, resulting in harsh words and hurt feelings. His parents, on the other hand, find their new son emotionally distant and difficult to relate to—although they are related by blood, they are separated by culture, language, and values.

As Simu grows up, he plays the part of the pious child flawlessly—he gets straight A’s, crushes national math competitions and makes his parents proud. But as time passes, he grows increasingly disillusioned with the path that has been laid out for him. Less than a year out of college, at the tender age of 22, his life hits rock bottom when he is laid off from his first job as an accountant. Left to his own devices, and with nothing left to lose, Simu embarks on a journey that will take him far outside of his comfort zone into the world of show business.

Through a swath of rejection and comical mishaps, Simu’s determination to carve out a path for himself leads him to not only succeed as an actor, but also to open the door to reconciling with his parents.

We Were Dreamers is more than a celebrity memoir—it’s a story about growing up between cultures, finding your family, and becoming the master of your own extraordinary circumstance.

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Quick Takes

Black women have long recognized the power of film for storytelling. For far too long, however, the cultural and historical narratives about film have not accounted for the contributions of Black women directors. This book remedies this omission by highlighting the trajectory of the culturally significant work of Black women directors in the United States, from the under-examined pioneers of the silent era, to the documentarians who sought to highlight the voices and struggles of Black women, and the contemporary Black women directors in Hollywood.  Applying a Black feminist perspective, this book examines the ways that Black women filmmakers have made a way for themselves and their work by resisting the dominant cultural expectations for Black women and for the medium of film, as a whole.

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The Black Fives

A groundbreaking, timely history of the largely unknown early days of Black basketball, bringing to life the trailblazing players, teams, and impresarios who made the game

From the introduction of the game of basketball to Black communities on a wide scale in 1904 to the racial integration of the NBA in 1950, dozens of African American teams were founded and flourished. This period, known as the Black Fives Era (teams at the time were often called “fives”), was a time of pioneering players and managers. They battled discrimination and marginalization and created culturally rich, socially meaningful events. But despite headline-making rivalries between big-city clubs, the savvy moves of innovative businessmen, and the undeniable talent of star players, this period is almost entirely unknown to basketball fans.

Claude Johnson has made it his mission to change that. An advocate fiercely committed to our history, for more than two decades Johnson has conducted interviews, mined archives, collected artifacts, and helped to preserve this historically important African American experience that otherwise would have been lost. The Black Fives is the result of his work, a landmark narrative history that braids together the stories of these forgotten pioneers and rewrites our understanding of the story of basketball.

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Born to be Hanged

Discover the “fascinating and outrageously readable” account of the roguish acts of the first pirates to raid the Pacific in a crusade that ended in a sensational trial back in England—perfect for readers of Nathaniel Philbrick and David McCullough (Douglas Preston, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Lost City of the Monkey God)

The year is 1680, in the heart of the Golden Age of Piracy, and more than three hundred daring, hardened pirates—a potent mix of low-life scallywags and a rare breed of gentlemen buccaneers—gather on a remote Caribbean island. The plan: to wreak havoc on the Pacific coastline, raiding cities, mines, and merchant ships. The booty: the bright gleam of Spanish gold and the chance to become legends. So begins one of the greatest piratical adventures of the era—a story not given its full due until now.

Inspired by the intrepid forays of pirate turned Jamaican governor Captain Henry Morgan—yes, that Captain Morgan—the company crosses Panama on foot, slashing its way through the Darien Isthmus, one of the thickest jungles on the planet, and liberating a native princess along the way. After reaching the South Sea, the buccaneers, primarily Englishmen, plunder the Spanish Main in a series of historic assaults, often prevailing against staggering odds and superior firepower. A collective shudder racks the western coastline of South America as the English pirates, waging a kind of proxy war against the Spaniards, gleefully undertake a brief reign over Pacific waters, marauding up and down the continent.

With novelistic prose and a rip-roaring sense of adventure, Keith Thomson guides us through the pirates’ legendary two-year odyssey. We witness the buccaneers evading Indigenous tribes, Spanish conquistadors, and sometimes even their own English countrymen, all with the ever-present threat of the gallows for anyone captured. By fusing contemporaneous accounts with intensive research and previously unknown primary sources, Born to Be Hanged offers a rollicking account of one of the most astonishing pirate expeditions of all time.

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Love That Story

In this New York Times-bestselling follow-up, JVN voices essays on topics including body positivity, healing and grief, personal style, tales from the hair salon, overcoming imposter syndrome, and issues surrounding systemic racism, cannabis reform, LGBTQ rights and HIV/AIDS awareness.

In Jonathan Van Ness’ New York Times bestselling memoir Over the Top, he showed readers how the incredibly difficult moments from his life (surviving sexual abuse and addiction, being diagnosed with HIV) have existed alongside great joy and positivity (landing a breakout role on Netflix’s Queer Eye, becoming an amateur figure skater and professional standup comedian, doting on his cats). If Jonathan has learned anything from these experiences, it’s that in order to thrive, he had to push past the shame and fear of being his true self. To embark on that journey, he had to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

In this candid and curious essay collection, Jonathan takes a thoughtful, in-depth look at timely topics through the lens of his own personal experience—instances that have required him to learn, grow, and back handspring layout to a better understanding of the world around him. He dives deeply and widely—from a poignant reflection on grief and embracing body neutrality to an examination of the HIV safety net and white privilege—to share the ways in which he has learned to embrace change. These stories speak to doing the work to challenge internalized beliefs, finding compassion and confidence, and learning more about what makes us all so messy and gorgeous.

Balancing the dark and the light, the serious and the signature humor that is Jonathan Van Ness, these essays will encourage readers to examine their individual assumptions and expand their horizons. Ultimately, it is about giving ourselves the permission to be the flawed and fabulous humans we are, and loving our stories.

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