Jon Stewart and the writers behind his popular comedy show present a hilarious summation of humanity in a book of photos, graphs, charts and some nudity that applies The Daily Show's trademark wit, irreverence and intelligence to every facet of human existence.
Matt Taibbi's columns in Rolling Stone have been a destination for those trying to understand what happened in the aftermath of the financial meltdown. His book, Griftopia, tries to make the subject even clearer in the colorful language Taibbi's readers know well. "All these big institutional investors essentially got sold oregano when they thought they were buying weed," Taibbi tells NPR's Guy Raz.
When journalist Peter Godwin sneaked into his native Zimbabwe after President Robert Mugabe lost a 2008 election, he writes, he expected "to dance on Robert Mugabe's political grave." But that was before Mugabe — then 84 — refused to give up power. Godwin secretly stayed in Zimbabwe, visiting opposition leaders, white farmers whose land had been confiscated by Mugabe and villages that had been burned beyond recognition. He details his time on the ground bearing witness to Mugabe's torture — and remembers his own childhood in the African nation — in The Fear: Robert Mugabe and the Martyrdom of Zimbabwe.
The life of former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is anchored by seminal events in U.S. history, from her youth in segregated Alabama, where violence was never very far away, to helping plan the U.S. invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. Rice tells those stories in her book, Extraordinary, Ordinary People, the first half of a planned two-book memoir. The book's dominant theme is the influence of Rice's parents, who were committed educators. Her father was also the minister of a well-respected Presbyterian church.
The Roosevelts' nonconformist love lives, as well as their expansive impulses to turn the White House into a World War II-era hippie crash pad, have been recounted by superb biographers, including Blanche Wiesen Cook and Doris Kearns Goodwin. What distinguishes Rowley's crackling chronicle is her focus on the evolution of the Roosevelt marriage from a standard-issue high-society alliance to a ... what? We don't even have a term for such an unconventional relationship — "open marriage" sounds too naughty, but "open" is clearly what the Roosevelts became.
Charlotte Abbott edits "New in Paperback." A contributing editor for Publishers Weekly, she also leads a weekly chat on books and reading in the digital age every Friday from 4-5 p.m. ET on Twitter. Follow her at @charabbott or check out the #followreader hashtag.