Embattled Rebel: Jefferson Davis And The Confederate Civil War by James M. McPherson. (Penguin) Putting aside his own professed sympathies with the Union side, the author examines the Confederate leader, who is often portrayed as the static foil to Abraham Lincoln. In McPherson’s telling, Davis emerges as a leader deeply involved in the Confederate military strategy and fiercely committed to the secessionist cause.
The Extraordinary Journey Of The Fakir Who Got Trapped In An Ikea Wardrobe by Romain Puértolas. Translated by Sam Taylor. (Vintage) An Indian con man arrives in Paris with a fake 100-euro note and one goal: to purchase Ikea’s newest bed of nails. Puértolas’s wry novel, a postcolonial sendup of immigration and commerce, follows the fakir on his journey across Europe and from sly trickster to compassionate global citizen.
A Life Of Barbara Stanwyck: Steel-True 1907-1940 by Victoria Wilson. (Simon & Schuster) Long admired for her profound emotional expression and comfort across a range of genres, Stanwyck is a star who has defied easy categorization. This is the first volume in Wilson’s sensitive exploration of the actress’s life, spanning her childhood and early forays as a performer. As reviewer Molly Haskell said, it’s “the book to bring her to center stage.”
Early Warning by Jane Smiley. (Anchor) Readers last met the Langdons, the Iowa farming family at the center of Smiley’s multigenerational trilogy, in “Some Luck.” Now it’s 1953, and the family has gathered to mourn their patriarch, Walter. This middle volume spans the societal shifts and changes of 20th-century America as the family comes up against turbulent times that encompass the Vietnam War and Jim Jones’ Peoples Temple.
Where The Dead Pause, And The Japanese Say Goodbye: A Journey by Marie Mutsuki Mockett. (Norton) Grief has been woven into Mockett’s life for generations: Her family has survived violent episodes in Japan’s past, including the nuclear bombing of Nagasaki. In the aftermath of the 2011 tsunami, the event around which this memoir is shaped, Mockett traveled to her family’s Buddhist temple in Japan and gained insight into her own sorrows while immersed in the nation’s grief.
The Same Sky by Amanda Eyre Ward. (Ballantine) Ward’s novel brings together two incomplete families. After a stretch of failed adoption attempts, Alice and her husband have abandoned hope of welcoming a child into their family. Meanwhile, 11-year-old Carla has decided to make the journey from her dangerous Honduras home to America in pursuit of her mother, who left when Carla was younger.
Shrinks: The Untold Story of Psychiatry by Jeffrey A. Lieberman with Ogi Ogas. (Back Bay/Little, Brown) Sensing a disconnect between the public’s mistrust of psychiatry and the field’s genuine virtues, Lieberman sets out to debunk the myths that have mischaracterized his medical specialty for years.
New York Times