Nov. 18-24: Famine, Family And A Song Of Lament And Hope

Tombstone

Tombstone: The Great Chinese Famine, 1958-1962

by Yang Jisheng

Paperback, 629 pages, Farrar Straus & Giroux, $17, published November 19 2013 | purchase
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  • Tombstone
  • The Great Chinese Famine, 1958-1962
  • Yang Jisheng

During The Great Leap Forward, an estimated 36 million Chinese starved to death in less than four years. The famine was among the worst the world has known — but the disaster was man-made. In Tombstone, Yang Jisheng offers an extensive account of those tragic years, drawing on a decade of undercover investigation to expose the role of Communist agricultural reform — and political violence — in exacerbating the harsh conditions. Banned in China and only recently translated into English, this history revises what once was recorded as truth.

News and Reviews
The Holy or the Broken

The Holy or the Broken: Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley, and the Unlikely Ascent of "Hallelujah"

by Alan Light

Paperback, 254 pages, Pocket Books, $15, published November 19 2013 | purchase
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  • The Holy or the Broken
  • Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley, and the Unlikely Ascent of "Hallelujah"
  • Alan Light

You know the song — Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah." You've probably listened to one of the many covers, sung by the likes of Jeff Buckley, Rufus Wainright and Michael Bolton; odds are high you've caught some of its many appearances in film and television. But, as Alan Light writes, the anthem was not always destined for classic status. When it was first released, it was practically unheard of — but in the nearly 30 years since, it has been covered by dozens of artists, accumulating a history that's as improbable as it is unique.

News and Reviews
Marmee & Louisa

Marmee & Louisa: The Untold Story Of Louisa May Alcott And Her Mother

by Eve Laplante

Paperback, 368 pages, Simon & Schuster, $16, published November 19 2013 | purchase
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  • Marmee & Louisa
  • The Untold Story Of Louisa May Alcott And Her Mother
  • Eve Laplante

In this dual biography, uncovered family papers allow Eve LaPlante to revise the common conceptions of Louisa May Alcott's home life. Most biographers focus on Alcott's relationship with her father, but as it turns out, the author of Little Women had a deeply influential relationship with her hardworking mother. Abigail May Alcott served as the intellectual and emotional center of Louisa's life, acting as a moral beacon on issues like social reform and gender inequality. When Louisa began writing her classic novel, it was to her mother's diaries that she first turned.

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*Some of the language in the summaries above has been provided by publishers.

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