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      Strongman: The Rise of Five Dictators and the Fall of Democracy

      by Kenneth C. Davis

      Dec 2020

      Biography High Plus

      What makes a country fall to a dictator? How do authoritarian leaders—strongmen—capable of killing millions acquire their power? How are they able to defeat the ideal of democracy? And what can we do to make sure it doesn’t happen again?

      By profiling five of the most notoriously ruthless dictators in history—Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong, and Saddam Hussein—Kenneth C. Davis seeks to answer these questions, examining the forces in these strongmen’s personal lives and historical periods that shaped the leaders they’d become. Meticulously researched and complete with photographs, Strongman provides insight into the lives of five leaders who callously transformed the world and serves as an invaluable resource in an era when democracy itself seems in peril.

      The Racers: How an Outcast Driver, an American Heiress, and a Legendary Car Challenged Hitler's Best

      by Neal Bascomb

      Nov 2020

      Biography High Plus

      In the years before World War II, Adolf Hitler wanted to prove the greatness of the Third Reich in everything from track and field to motorsports. The Nazis poured money into the development of new race cars, and Mercedes-Benz came out with a stable of supercharged automobiles called Silver Arrows. Their drivers dominated the sensational world of European Grand Prix racing and saluted Hitler on their many returns home with victory.

      As the Third Reich stripped Jews of their rights and began their march toward war, one driver, René Dreyfus, a 32-year-old Frenchman of Jewish heritage who had enjoyed some early successes on the racing circuit, was barred from driving on any German or Italian race teams, which fielded the best in class, due to the rise of Hitler and Benito Mussolini.

      So it was that in 1937, Lucy Schell, an American heiress and top Monte Carlo Rally driver, needed a racer for a new team she was creating to take on Germany's Silver Arrows. Sensing untapped potential in Dreyfus, she funded the development of a nimble tiger of a new car built by a little-known French manufacturer called Delahaye. As the nations of Europe marched ever closer to war, Schell and Dreyfus faced down Hitler's top drivers, and the world held its breath in anticipation, waiting to see who would triumph.

      Apple (Skin to the Core)

      by Eric Gansworth

      Oct 2020

      Biography High Plus

      A memoir in verse for fans of Brown Girl Dreaming and The Poet X

      How about a book that makes you barge into your boss's office to read a page of poetry from? That you dream of? That every movie, song, book, moment that follows continues to evoke in some way?

      The term "Apple" is a slur in Native communities across the country. It's for someone supposedly "red on the outside, white on the inside."

      Eric Gansworth is telling his story in Apple (Skin to the Core). The story of his family, of Onondaga among Tuscaroras, of Native folks everywhere. From the horrible legacy of the government boarding schools, to a boy watching his siblings leave and return and leave again, to a young man fighting to be an artist who balances multiple worlds. Eric shatters that slur and reclaims it in verse and prose and imagery that truly lives up to the word heartbreaking.

      The Cat I Never Named: A True Story of Love, War, and Survival

      by Amra Sabic-El-Rayess

      Oct 2020

      Biography High Plus

      Amra was a teen in Bihac, Bosnia, when her friend said they couldn’t speak anymore because Amra was Muslim. Then refugees from other cities started arriving, fleeing Serbian persecution. When Serbian tanks rolled into Bihac, the life she knew disappeared—right as a stray cat followed her home. Her family didn’t have the money to keep a pet, but after the cat seemed to save her brother, how could they turn it away? Saving a life one time could be a coincidence, but then it happened again—and Amra and her family wondered just what this cat was.

      This is the story of a teen who, even in the brutality of war, never wavered in her determination to obtain education, maintain friendships, and even find a first love—and the cat that provided comfort, and maybe even served as a guardian spirit, in the darkest of times.

      Kiyo Sato: From a WWII Japanese Internment Camp to a Life of Service

      by Connie Goldsmith

      Sep 2020

      Biography High Plus

      In 1941 Kiyo Sato and her eight younger siblings lived with their parents on a small farm near Sacramento, California, where they grew strawberries, nuts, and other crops. Kiyo had started college the year before when she was eighteen, and her eldest brother, Seiji, would soon join the US Army. The younger children attended school and worked on the farm after class and on Saturday. On Sunday, they went to church. The Satos were an ordinary American family. Until they weren’t.

      On December 7, 1941, Japan bombed the US naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The next day, US president Franklin Roosevelt declared war on Japan and the United States officially entered World War II. Soon after, in February and March 1942, Roosevelt signed two executive orders which paved the way for the military to round up all Japanese Americans living on the West Coast and incarcerate them in isolated internment camps for the duration of the war. Kiyo and her family were among the nearly 120,000 internees.

      In this moving account, Sato and Goldsmith tell the story of the internment years, describing why the internment happened and how it impacted Kiyo and her family.

      Ms. Gloria Steinem: A Life

      by Winifred Conkling

      Sep 2020

      Biography High Plus

      Her strength and wisdom have inspired women for generations, but Gloria Steinem’s life is more complex and compelling than most people realize. Her unconventional childhood caused her to rethink society’s assumptions about the roles of women and men. This spark lit a fire in her that burned for decades as she became a leading voice in the women’s movement.

      Throughout the years, Gloria Steinem is perhaps the single-most iconic figure associated with women's rights, her name practically synonymous with feminism. Documenting everything from her boundary-pushing journalistic career to the foundation of Ms. magazine to being awarded the 2013 Presidential Medal of Freedom, Winifred Conkling's Ms. Gloria Steinem: A Life is a meticulously researched biography that is sure to satisfy even the most voracious of aspiring glass-ceiling smashers.

      Call Me American: The Extraordinary True Story of a Young Somali Immigrant (Adapted for Young Adults)

      by Abdirisack Nor Iftin

      Aug 2020

      Biography High Plus

      Abdi Nor Iftin grew up amidst a blend of cultures, far from the United States. At home in Somalia, his mother entertained him with vivid folktales and bold stories detailing her rural, nomadic upbrinding. As he grew older, he spent his days following his father, a basketball player, through the bustling street of the capital city of Mogadishu.

      But when the threat of civil war reached Abdi’s doorstep, his family was forced to flee to safety. Through the turbulent years of war, young Abdi found solace in popular American music and films. Nicknamed Abdi the American, he developed a proficiency for English that connected him—and his story—with news outlets and radio shows, and eventually gave him a shot at winning the annual U.S. visa lottery.

      Abdi shares every part of his journey, and his courageous account reminds readers that everyone deserves the chance to build a brighter future for themselves.

      Sarah Bernhardt: The Divine and Dazzling Life of the World’s First Superstar

      by Catherine Reef

      Jul 2020

      Biography High Plus

      Sarah Bernhardt was a French stage actor who became a global superstar in the late nineteenth century—the Lady Gaga of her day—and is still considered to be one of the greatest performers of all time. This fast-paced account of her life, filled with provocative detail, brilliantly follows the transformation of a girl of humble origins, born to a courtesan, into a fabulously talented, wealthy, and beloved icon. Not only was her acting trajectory remarkable, but her personal life was filled with jaw-dropping exploits, and she was extravagantly eccentric, living with a series of exotic animals and sleeping in a coffin. She grew to be deeply admired around the world, despite her unabashed and public promiscuity at a time when convention was king; she slept with each of her leading men and proudly raised a son without a husband.

      A fascinating and fast-paced deep dive into the world of the divine Sarah. Illustrated with more than sixty-five photos of Bernhardt on stage, in film, and in real life.

      Sing and Shout: The Mighty Voice of Paul Robeson

      by Susan Goldman Rubin

      Jun 2020

      Biography High Plus

      When faced with the decision to remain silent or be ostracized, Paul Robeson chose to sing, shout, and speak out. Sing and Shout: The Mighty Voice of Paul Robeson explores how Robeson’s love of African American spirituals and deep empathy towards the suffering of others drove his long, fervent mission as a civil rights activist and his career as an artist. Although he was also an actor, singing was Robeson’s defining talent and where he could best express himself.

      After exploring socialism, Robeson was targeted by the U.S. government for speaking out about discrimination against African Americans and for his political views. He was labeled a communist during the height of the Cold War and found himself stripped of his U.S. passport. But Robeson never gave in and continued to perform and speak out. The book is based on Rubin’s extensive research, including fieldwork in Harlem, NY, in Princeton and Somerville, NJ, and at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ.

      Alphamaniacs: Builders of 26 Wonders of the Word

      by Paul Fleischman

      May 2020

      Biography High Plus

      Step right up and read the genuine stories of writers so intoxicated by the shapes and sound of language that they collected, dissected, and constructed verbal wonders of the most extraordinary kind.

      Jean-Dominique Bauby wrote his memoirs by blinking his left eyelid, unable to move the rest of his body. Frederic Cassidy was obsessed with the language of place, and after posing hundreds of questions to folks all over the United States, amassed (among other things) 176 words for dust bunnies. Georges Perec wrote a novel without using the letter e (so well that at least one reviewer didn’t notice its absence), then followed with a novella in which e was the only vowel.

      A love letter to all those who love words, language, writing, writers, and stories, Alphamaniacs is a stunningly illustrated collection of mini-biographies about the most daring and peculiar of writers and their audacious, courageous, temerarious way with words.

      In Good Hands: Remarkable Female Politicians from Around the World Who Showed Up, Spoke Out and Made Change

      by Stephanie MacKendrick

      Apr 2020

      Biography High Plus

      Stephanie MacKendrick, a former journalist now dedicated to women's career advancement, believes the time for women in political leadership is now. Judging by the recent wave of activism that developed into a flood of women seeking elected office, she's not alone.

      MacKendrick has created a one-of-kind insider's guide for young women interested in joining this movement and becoming part of the political system. It explores everything from what to expect in a campaign, to how to deal with the inevitable challenges, to why it's A truly original book about running for office written specifically for young women, with inspiring stories of eighteen role models who took the plunge, and all the tools and resources needed to get a campaign off the ground.

      No matter where you live or who you hope to represent, the experience of running for office is different if you are a woman. This one-of-a-kind insider's guide is perfect for young women who are ready to make change. It combines uplifting stories of women from around the world who have run for office with practical advice for anyone who wants to follow in their footsteps. It explores everything from what to expect in a campaign, to how to deal with the inevitable challenges, to why it's worth it to run.

      Ordinary Hazards: A Memoir

      by Nikki Grimes

      Jan 2020

      Biography High Plus

      Growing up with a mother suffering from paranoid schizophrenia and a mostly absent father, Nikki Grimes found herself terrorized by babysitters, shunted from foster family to foster family, and preyed upon by her mother's second husband. At the age of six, she poured her pain onto a piece of paper late one night—and discovered the magic of writing. Through subsequent years, her notebooks were her most enduring companions. In this remarkable memoir told in both poetry and prose, Grimes explores her harrowing past, showing how the power of words helped her conquer the hazards—ordinary and extraordinary—of life.

      Author’s note. Black-and-white photographs.
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