Hatching Twitter: A True Story of Money, Power, Friendship, and Betrayal, by Nick Bilton. (Portfolio/Penguin) This perceptive, fast-paced account, by a columnist and reporter for The New York Times, centers on Twitter’s four founders – Silicon Valley friends who developed the social media service as a side venture in 2006, then fought bitterly over control of a multibillion-dollar empire that revolutionized the way we communicate. “These are characters made for the big screen,” Maud Newton wrote in The New York Times Book Review.
The Big Crowd, by Kevin Baker. (Mariner/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) In Baker’s energetic novel about the temptations of power in midcentury New York, an Irish lawyer fights to clear the reputation of his older brother, who worked his way up from beat cop to mayor. From Gracie Mansion to the Brooklyn docks, “The Big Crowd” is a “compelling imagined world,” Times reviewer Scott Turow said.
The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism, by Doris Kearns Goodwin. (Simon & Schuster) Goodwin builds this dynamic history of the Progressive movement around two relationships. One is between Roosevelt and Taft – friends, reformist comrades and eventual rivals for the 1912 presidential nomination. The other is between power and the press, chief among those journalists a group of writers who helped define what became known as “the muckraking era.”
The Complete Short Stories of James Purdy. (Liveright) Spanning roughly six decades of an underappreciated career – Purdy (1914-2009) was always an outsider in the literary world – these stories and novellas concern damaged innocents, lurkers and isolates who never question the fallen state of the world in which they find themselves.
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Falling Upwards: How We Took to the Air, by Richard Holmes. (Vintage) From every angle – history, art, science, biography – Holmes, the author of “The Age of Wonder,” tells the remarkable history of European and American ballooning: the adventurers and entrepreneurs, heroes and fools, who were possessed by the longing to be airborne.
Duplex, by Kathryn Davis. (Graywolf) A schoolteacher takes an unusual lover in this dystopian-fantasy-meets-alternate-reality novel, set in a suburbia swarming with robots and sorcerers, slaves and masters, and bodies without souls. “When you are lost in the uncanny woods of this astonishing, double-hinged book, just keep reading,” Lynda Barry said in the Book Review. “Kathryn Davis knows right where you are.”
Coolie Woman: The Odyssey of Indenture, by Gaiutra Bahadur. (University of Chicago) Traversing three continents and trawling through colonial archives, Bahadur excavates the story of her Hindu great-grandmother and the repressed history of hundreds of thousands of other “coolie” women – the British name for indentured laborers who replaced the emancipated slaves on sugar plantations around the world.
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