In The Kingdom Of Ice: The Grand And Terrible Polar Voyage Of The Uss Jeannette by Hampton Sides. (Anchor) In June 1881, two years into its Arctic expedition, the USS Jeannette’s hull was crushed by ice, forcing the commander, George Washington De Long (1844-81), and his 32-man crew to abandon ship 1,000 miles north of Siberia. Sides’ first-rate narrative recounts the horrors (crude amputations, madness, starvation) in the crew’s desperate struggle to survive.
Lovers At The Chameleon Club, Paris 1932 by Francine Prose. (Harper Perennial) Told in a kaleidoscope of voices and inspired by a 1932 Brassai photograph of a lesbian couple at a Paris nightclub, Prose’s novel of love, cross-dressing and espionage centers on a French cabaret performer and racecar driver who betrays her country to the Nazis.
John Wayne: The Life And Legend by Scott Eyman. (Simon & Schuster) More than one of Hollywood’s most famous actors, Wayne (1907-79) was, and still is, a symbol of America itself: strong, forthright, ready to defend the homestead. Eyman goes behind the screen persona to reveal a man who was exuberant, guileless, even strangely innocent.
The Vacationers by Emma Straub. (Riverhead) Straub’s novel follows a well-heeled Manhattan family, the Posts, and their friends on a two-week vacation in Majorca. It’s supposed to be a time of celebration – there’s a 35th wedding anniversary, for starters – but their idyll is upended as secrets and rivalries come to light. “For those unable to jet off to a Spanish island this summer, reading ‘The Vacationers’ may be the next-best thing,” Margo Rabb said in the Book Review.
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Supreme City: How Jazz Age Manhattan Gave Birth To Modern America by Donald L. Miller. (Simon & Schuster) This entertaining history is led by an astonishing cast of characters, including Walter Chrysler and Duke Ellington, who helped turn 1920s New York into the world capital of culture and commerce. In So We Read On: How “the Great Gatsby” Came To Be And Why It Endures (Back Bay/Little, Brown), Maureen Corrigan offers fresh perspectives on the Jazz Age novel’s debt to noir and its profound commentaries on themes of race, class and gender.
Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki And His Years Of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami. Translated by Philip Gabriel. (Vintage International, $15.95.) “I’ve always seen myself as an empty person, lacking color and identity,” says Murakami’s forlorn hero, a 36-year-old engineer in Tokyo who embarks on a series of reunions in the hopes of understanding why his tight-knit circle of high school friends suddenly shunned him years earlier.
Hotel Florida: Truth, Love, And Death In The Spanish Civil War by Amanda Vaill. (Picador) Against the backdrop of a critical moment in history, Vaill traces the tangled wartime destinies of three couples: the bright young photographers Robert Capa and Gerda Taro, the writers Ernest Hemingway and Martha Gellhorn, and the devoted press officers Arturo Barea and Ilsa Kulcsar.
New York Times