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LAST UPDATE: Tuesday February 10, 2015 01:10PM EST
- May 23, 2011
- Vol. 75
- No. 20
Picks and Pans: Books
Being Betty White
by Erik Larson |
REVIEWED BY ELLEN SHAPIRO
William E. Dodd thought Nazis were "adolescents" who would ultimately listen to reason; his bodacious daughter Martha falcon-hunted with Nazi leader Hermann Goring and later had an affair with Gestapo chief Rudolf Diels. That Dodd was the first U.S. ambassador to Hitler's Germany makes his and Martha's story fascinating history, and Larson (The Devil in the White City) shows us the Nazi rise to power through their daily lives. When the Dodds arrived in 1933, Berlin was a sophisticated city and many dismissed Hitler, who had been chancellor for just six months, as too thuggish to survive. But slowly, inexorably, both Dodd's diplomacy and Martha's social whirl were impacted by his tightening grip. Using letters and diaries, Larson-a master at writing true tales as riveting as fiction-creates a nuanced, eyewitness account of a father and daughter whose eyes thankfully opened as the horrors closed in.
The Year We Left Home
by Jean Thompson |
REVIEWED BY KIM HUBBARD
No one can nail your failings quite like a sibling, a fact that Thompson uses to killer effect in this novel about four Iowa brothers and sisters choosing divergent paths to adulthood. Bent on escape, ambitious Ryan notes his housewife sister's "constant brittle anxiety, as if she'd just missed out on some really important sale." But smug judgments coexist with fierce love, and it's the latter that triumphs. Wise and absorbing, this is one not to miss.
The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary
by Andrew Westoll |
REVIEWED BY CAROLINE LEAVITT
As a volunteer at Fauna Sanctuary, a haven for 13 traumatized chimps rescued from biomedical labs, Westoll blended smoothies and played with the apes, witnessing an astonishing resilience as they learned to trust and interact once more. His moving book shows that "no matter what kind of trauma we've gone through, we all have the capacity to recover and to help others heal."
AS HUSBANDS GO
by Susan Isaacs
When her plastic surgeon husband is found murdered, Long Island housewife Susie and her grandma Ethel go sleuthing, with surprising results.
FLY AWAY HOME
by Jennifer Weiner
Senator cheats, wife stands by him at the requisite press conference. In Weiner's hands, this all-too-familiar scenario is fresh and diverting.
MEN AND DOGS
by Katie Crouch
Returning home to Charleston to recoup, untethered Hannah gets more adventure than she'd bargained for.
What can't she do? At 89, the actress stars in the hit show Hot in Cleveland and just released her sixth book, If You Ask Me.
DO YOU LIKE TO WRITE?
I really do. You don't have to put makeup on to do it! I love to talk about my four-legged friends. Those [chapters] are my favorites.
IN THE BOOK, YOU DISCUSS NOT HAVING KIDS.
A lot of girls do it beautifully, but knowing how compulsive I am, I knew if I had a child, I wouldn't have a career, because I'd feel guilty. I've never regretted it.
YOU ALSO DISCUSS PLASTIC SURGERY.
It's not nice to fool Mother Nature! But in 1976 I had my eyelids done. I scolded myself forever, but now I'm glad I did it.
I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU'RE 89.
I get hysterical every time they want to extend my contract. But I can see me at 98: "Yes, I'm still in show business!"
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