Here is a quick look at the most noteworthy nonfiction titles being released this May. Visit our catalog for a more extensive list.
“Lake of the Ozarks: My Surreal Summers in a Vanishing America” by Bill Geist
Before there was “tourism” and souvenir ashtrays became “kitsch,” the Lake of the Ozarks was a Shangri-La for middle-class Midwestern families on vacation. It was there that author Bill Geist spent summers in the Sixties during his school and college years working at Arrowhead Lodge. What may have seemed just a summer job became, upon reflection, a transformative era where a cast of eccentric, small-town characters and experiences shaped (some might suggest “slightly twisted”) Bill into the man he is today. In “Lake of the Ozarks,” Emmy Award-winning CBS Sunday Morning Correspondent Bill Geist reflects on his coming of age in the American Heartland and traces his evolution as a man and a writer.
Reverend Willie Maxwell was a rural preacher accused of murdering five of his family members for insurance money in the 1970s. With the help of a savvy lawyer, he escaped justice for years until a relative shot him dead at the funeral of his last victim. Despite hundreds of witnesses, Maxwell’s murderer was acquitted- thanks to the same attorney who had previously defended the Reverend. Sitting in the audience during the vigilante’s trial was Harper Lee, author of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” who had traveled from New York City to her native Alabama with the idea of writing her own “In Cold Blood,” the true-crime classic she had helped her friend Truman Capote research seventeen years earlier. Now Casey Cep brings this story to life, from the shocking murders to the courtroom drama to the racial politics of the Deep South. At the same time, she offers a deeply moving portrait of one of the country’s most beloved writers and her struggle with fame, success, and the mystery of artistic creativity.
“The Pioneers: The Heroic Story of the Settlers Who Brought the American Ideal West” by David McCullough
As part of the Treaty of Paris, in which Great Britain recognized the new United States of America, Britain ceded the land that comprised the immense Northwest Territory, a wilderness empire northwest of the Ohio River containing the future states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin. A Massachusetts minister named Manasseh Cutler was instrumental in opening this vast territory to veterans of the Revolutionary War and their families for settlement. Included in the Northwest Ordinance were three remarkable conditions: freedom of religion, free universal education, and most importantly, the prohibition of slavery. In 1788 the first band of pioneers set out from New England for the Northwest Territory under the leadership of Revolutionary War veteran General Rufus Putnam. David McCullough tells the story through five major characters: Cutler and Putnam; Cutler’s son Ephraim; and two other men, one a carpenter turned architect and the other a physician who became a prominent pioneer in American science.
Best of the Rest
- “Becoming Dr. Seuss: Theodor Geisel and the Making of an American Imagination” by Brian Jay Jones
- “My Dad, Yogi: A Memoir of Family and Baseball” by Dale Berra and Mark Ribowsky
- “Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered: The Definitive How-To Guide” by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark
- “Where the Light Enters: Building a Family, Discovering Myself” by Jill Biden