Thursday, March 24, 2016

Best Books of the Month: Deep Cuts



Trouble-BoysEvery month, we spend too much time selecting the Best Books of the Month, reading, discarding, and honing a list of hundreds of titles through a quasi-democratic process of voting and debate. The task is daunting and cruel; decisions are made, and deserving books fall by the wayside. Often there are just too many good books. Sometimes a book fails to capture the imaginations or interest of other readers. Occasionally, a pet author or subject matter will relegate a book to one of our more than a dozen category lists.

For me, that's Trouble Boys: The True Story of the Replacements, Bob Mehr's certainly definitive biography of the legendary Minneapolis rock band that burned out before achieving the success that they deserved--but obviously weren't built for. Mehr reaches into all the corners, some dark and salacious: alcohol and addiction; ego and ambition; brotherhood and betrayal; and above everything, all the great songs. Is this a book for hardcore Replacements fans? Absolutely, and it's hard to believe a book this comprehensive could have, would have, been written by a neutral observer. But its own ambition and passion for truth and dirt transcends this particular band, elevating it to the level of the best rock and roll sagas.

Here's a closer look at some of the Best Books of March that, although no less remarkable, didn't make the cut.

 

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All the Ways We Kill and Die: An Elegy for a Fallen Comrade, and the Hunt for His Killer by Brian Castner
Castner's 2012 memoir, The Long Walk, is a tale of two wars: The first in Iraq, where he served two tours dismantling roadside bombs or sifting through their carnage; the second he fought at home, desperate with panic and undiagnosed pain. All the Ways We Kill and Die returns to Explosive Ordnance Disposal with a CSI-like manhunt for a elusive bomb-maker known as the Engineer. See More Best of the Month in Biographies & Memoirs.
 

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Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg
Duhigg's 2012 The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business became something of a surprising--and durable--best-seller, the rare sort of book that manages to be readable, enlightening, and useful. With Smarter Faster Better, Duhigg parses decision-making into eight core components, in the process discovering connections between thinkers who have proven both innovative and uncommonly productive. See more Best of the Month in Business & Leadership.
 

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Journey to Munich by Jacqueline Winspear
The 12th book in Winspear's lauded Maisie Dobbs series finds the private detective brokering a prisoner exchange between the British Secret Service and Nazi Germany, leading her to Munich and a tangle of ambiguous identity and hidden motives. See more Best of the Month in Mystery, Thriller & Suspense.
 

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Rightful Heritage: Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Land of America by Douglas Brinkley
With The Wilderness Warrior (an Amazon Best Book of the Month for August 2009), Douglas Brinkley presented a massive biography of Theodore Roosevelt emphasizing both his love of the natural world and his tireless efforts to preserve it. Slightly less massive at 752 pages, Rightful Heritage picks up the story with TR's distant cousin Franklin D., whose own passion for conservation found an outlet in the policy and work of the New Deal.
 


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