Tag Archives: Biography

I am Rosa Parks by Brad Meltzer



Hardcover
June 17, 2014
Dial
I am Rosa Parks (Ordinary People Change World)
by Brad Meltzer (Author), Christopher Eliopoulos (Illustrator)

“We can all be heroes” is the message entertainingly told in this picture-book biography series from #1 New York Times Bestselling author Brad Meltzer.

“Kids always search for heroes, so we might as well have a say in it,” Brad Meltzer realized, and so he envisioned this friendly, fun approach to biography -– for his own kids, and for yours. Each book tells the story of one of America’s icons in a vivacious, conversational way that works well for the youngest nonfiction readers, those who aren’t quite ready for the Who Was biography series. Each book focuses on a particular character trait that made that role model heroic. For example, Rosa Parks dared to stand up for herself and other African Americans by staying seated, and as a result she helped end public bus segregation and launch the country’s Civil Rights Movement.

This engaging series is the perfect way to bring American history to life for young children, providing them with the right role models, supplementing Common Core learning in the classroom, and best of all, inspiring them to strive and dream.

2pac vs. Biggie: An Illustrated History of Rap’s Greatest Battle by Jeff Weiss and Evan McGarvey

Hip hop icons and rap innovators, the Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur continue to influence, define, and change the genre years after their deaths. Despite the controversies surrounding the murders of Tupac and Biggie, ultimately it’s their art that remains their biggest legacy. The music of Biggie Smalls and 2Pac has inspired the likes of Jay-Z, Kanye, Eminem, Dr. Dre, Lil Wayne, Rick Ross and more. The legacies of Tupac Shakur and Christopher Wallace — a.k.a. The Notorious B.I.G. — live on.

So does their rivalry, one of the greatest in music history. In 2pac vs. Biggie, hip hop experts Jeff Weiss and Evan McGarvey take an entirely new approach to investigation of that rivalry. Rather than focus on the countless conspiracy theories, they study the artist as artists, dissecting the lyrics of their hits (“California Love,” “All Eyez on Me,” “Changes” for 2pac, “Mo Money Mo Problems,” “Hypnotize,” “Big Poppa” for Biggie) and lesser-known works, performance and rhythmic styles, aesthetic appearances and what those meant, rises to power, and of course, their lives after death. The feud between 2pac and Biggie is broken down and looked at from all new angles, bringing to light little-known and surprising sides to each rapper’s persona and inner world.

Illustrated throughout with photographs, memorabilia, and artwork inspired by Tupac and Biggie, and with insert “versus” pages dissecting topics such as each artist’s presence in movies, critical reception, and literary influences, this book is a must-have for all rap and hip hop fans.

Beyonce by Andrew Vaughan

Beyoncé is one of the world’s biggest pop stars–and this lavishly illustrated book is the first to celebrate the talented singer, songwriter, producer, and actress in the glam style she deserves! Since rising to fame with the R&B group Destiny’s Child, Beyoncé Knowles has enjoyed success after success, starting with her debut solo album, the multiplatinum, Grammy®-award winning Dangerously in Love. Beyoncé follows the artist’s life (including her marriage to hip-hop mogul Jay-Z and the birth of their daughter, Blue Ivy) and career, her wildly popular music, videos, and movies, and her role as a fashion icon.

Sapp Attack: My Story by Warren Sapp and David Fisher

In his no-holds-barred memoir, Sapp Attack!, Warren Sapp, one of the NFL’s most hilarious and candid personalities, reveals a side of football most fans have never before seen.

Big Man. Big Talent. Big Star. Big Mouth. Big Heart. Big Personality. Big Smile. Big Headlines. Warren Sapp, one of pro football’s most dominating defensive players both on and off the field, has a reputation for being bold, brash, knowledgeable, and outspoken. During his All-American career at the University of Miami, 13 seasons as an NFL star, four years on the NFL Network and one very big season on Dancing with the Stars, Sapp has never held back. Now he brings that same fearless attitude to his memoir, a book that will create controversy and headlines; in other words, pure Warren Sapp.

Sapp has won every award possible for a defensive player, but it wasn’t just his extraordinarily athletic ability that made him a star; it was also his ability to understand the subtleties of the game. He writes about working his way up from the high school gridiron to one of the top college football programs in the country, to the NFL, and reveals how the system actually works — the behind-the-scenes plays that fans rarely get to see.

He’ll discuss what it was like to face some of the greatest players in NFL history, including Hall of Famers Steve Young and Jerry Rice, both of whom he put out of the game, and Bret Favre, whom he sacked eleven times during his career.

In this revealing, hilarious, and must-read book, Sapp offers readers a look inside the life of one of football’s biggest stars and shares his often controversial opinions about the state of pro football today and its future.

Sapp Attack: My Story Warren Sapp Thomas Dunne Books August 21, 2012 Hardcover

Purpose: An Immigrant’s Story by Wyclef Jean

Wyclef Jean is one of the most influential voices in hip-hop. He rocketed to fame in the 1990s with the Fugees, whose multiplatinum album, The Score, would prove a landmark in music history, winning two Grammys and going on to become one of the bestselling hip-hop albums of all time. In Purpose, Wyclef recounts his path to fame from his impoverished childhood in “Baby Doc” Duvalier’s Haiti and the mean streets of Brooklyn and Newark to the bright lights of the world stage.

The son of a pastor and grandson of a Vodou priest, Wyclef was born and raised in the slums of Haiti, moving with his family to New York when he was nine. He lived in Brooklyn’s notorious Marlboro projects until his father, Gesner Jean, took them to Newark, where he converted a burnt-out funeral home into a house for his family and a church for his congregation. But life in New Jersey was no easier for Wyclef, who found it hard to shake his refugee status. Forced to act as a literal and cultural translator for his parents while still trying to master English himself, Wyclef soon learned that fitting in would be a constant struggle. He made his way by competing in “freestyle” rap battles, eventually becoming the best MC in his school. At the same time, Wyclef was singing in his father’s choir and learning multiple instruments while also avidly exploring funk, rock, reggae, and jazz — an experience that would forever shape his sound. When Wyclef chose to pursue a career in music over attending theological school, Gesner, who hated rap, nearly disowned him, creating a gulf between father and son that would take nearly a decade to bridge.

Within a few short years, Wyclef would catapult to international renown with the Fugees. In Purpose he details for the first time ever the inside story of the group: their rise and fall, and his relationships with Pras and Lauryn Hill.

Wyclef also looks back with candor at the catastrophic earthquake that struck Haiti in 2010 and his efforts to help rebuild his homeland, including the controversy surrounding YÉle, his aid organization, and his exploratory bid for president of the island nation. The story revealed in Purpose is one of inspiration, full of drama and humor, told in compelling detail, about the incredible life of one of our most revered musical icons.

The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo by Tom Reiss

Here is the remarkable true story of the real Count of Monte Cristo — a stunning feat of historical sleuthing that brings to life the forgotten hero who inspired such classics as The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers.

The real-life protagonist of The Black Count, General Alex Dumas, is a man almost unknown today yet with a story that is strikingly familiar, because his son, the novelist Alexandre Dumas, used it to create some of the best loved heroes of literature.

Yet, hidden behind these swashbuckling adventures was an even more incredible secret: the real hero was the son of a black slave — who rose higher in the white world than any man of his race would before our own time.

Born in Saint-Domingue (now Haiti), Alex Dumas was briefly sold into bondage but made his way to Paris where he was schooled as a sword-fighting member of the French aristocracy. Enlisting as a private, he rose to command armies at the height of the Revolution, in an audacious campaign across Europe and the Middle East — until he met an implacable enemy he could not defeat.

The Black Count is simultaneously a riveting adventure story, a lushly textured evocation of 18th-century France, and a window into the modern world’s first multi-racial society. But it is also a heartbreaking story of the enduring bonds of love between a father and son.

The One: The Life and Music of James Brown by RJ Smith

The definitive biography of James Brown, the Godfather of Soul, with fascinating findings on his life as a Civil Rights activist, an entrepreneur, and the most innovative musician of our time

Playing 350 shows a year at his peak, with more than forty Billboard hits, James Brown was a dazzling showman who transformed American music. His life offstage was just as vibrant, and until now no biographer has delivered a complete profile. The One draws on interviews with more than 100 people who knew Brown personally or played with him professionally. Using these sources, award-winning writer RJ Smith draws a portrait of a man whose twisted and amazing life helps us to understand the music he made.

The One delves deeply into the story of a man who was raised in abject-almost medieval-poverty in the segregated South but grew up to earn (and lose) several fortunes. Covering everything from Brown’s unconventional childhood (his aunt ran a bordello), to his role in the Black Power movement, which used “Say It Loud (I’m Black and Proud)” as its anthem, to his high-profile friendships, to his complicated family life, Smith’s meticulous research and sparkling prose blend biography with a cultural history of a pivotal era.

At the heart of The One is Brown’s musical genius. He had crucial influence as an artist during at least three decades; he inspires pity, awe, and revulsion. As Smith traces the legend’s reinvention of funk, soul, R&B, and pop, he gives this history a melody all its own.

Gotham
March 15, 2012
Hardcover

Reimagining Equality: Stories of Gender, Race, and Finding Home by Anita Hill

From the heroic lawyer who spoke out against Clarence Thomas in the historic confirmation hearings twenty years ago, Anita Hill‘s first book since the best-selling Speaking Truth to Power.

In 1991, Anita Hill’s courageous testimony during the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings sparked a national conversation on sexual harassment and women’s equality in politics and the workplace. Today, she turns her attention to another potent and enduring symbol of economic success and equality—the home. Hill details how the current housing crisis, resulting in the devastation of so many families, so many communities, and even whole cities, imperils every American’s ability to achieve the American Dream. Hill takes us on a journey that begins with her own family story and ends with the subprime mortgage meltdown. Along the way, she invites us into homes across America, rural and urban, and introduces us to some extraordinary African American women. As slavery ended, Mollie Elliott, Hill’s ancestor, found herself with an infant son and no husband. Yet, she bravely set course to define for generations to come what it meant to be a free person of color. On the eve of the civil rights and women’s rights movements, Lorraine Hansberry’s childhood experience of her family’s fight against racial restrictions in a Chicago neighborhood ended tragically for the Hansberry family. Yet, that episode shaped Lorraine’s hopeful account of early suburban integration in her iconic American drama A Raisin in the Sun.  Two decades later, Marla, a divorced mother, endeavors to keep her children safe from a growing gang presence in 1980s Los Angeles. Her story sheds light on the fears and anxiety countless parents faced during an era of growing neighborhood isolation, and that continue today. In the midst of the 2008 recession, hairdresser Anjanette Booker’s dogged determination to keep her Baltimore home and her salon reflects a commitment to her own independence and to her community’s economic and social viability.

Finally, Hill shares her own journey to a place and a state of being at home that brought her from her roots in rural Oklahoma to suburban Boston, Massachusetts, and connects her own search for home with that of women and men set adrift during the foreclosure crisis.  The ability to secure a place that provides access to every opportunity our country has to offer is central to the American Dream. To achieve that ideal, Hill argues, we and our leaders must engage in a new conversation about what it takes to be at home in America. Pointing out that the inclusive democracy our Constitution promises is bigger than the current debate about legal rights, she presents concrete proposals that encourage us to reimagine equality. Hill offers a twenty-first-century vision of America—not a vision of migration, but one of roots; not one simply of tolerance, but one of belonging; not just of rights, but also of community—a community of equals.



The John Carlos Story: The Sports Moment That Changed the World by Dave Zirin

Seen around the world, John Carlos and Tommie Smith’s Black Power salute on the 1968 Olympic
podium sparked controversy and career fallout. Yet their show of defiance remains one of the most iconic
images of Olympic history and the Black Power movement. Here is the remarkable story of one of the men
behind the salute, lifelong activist John Carlos.

John Carlos is an African American former track and field athlete, professional football player, and a founding member of the Olympic Project for Human Rights. He won the bronze medal in the 200 meters race at the 1968 Olympics, where his Black Power salute on the podium with Tommie Smith caused much political controversy. The John Carlos Story is his first book.

Dave Zirin is the author of four books, including Bad Sports, A People’s History of Sports in the United States, and What’s My Name, Fool? He writes the popular weekly online sports column “The Edge of Sports” and is a regular contributor to SportsIllustrated.com, SLAM, Los Angeles Times, and The Nation, where he is the publication’s first sports editor.

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Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable

Years in the making-the definitive biography of the legendary black activist.

Of the great figure in twentieth-century American history perhaps none is more complex and controversial than Malcolm X. Constantly rewriting his own story, he became a criminal, a minister, a leader, and an icon, all before being felled by assassins’ bullets at age thirty-nine. Through his tireless work and countless speeches he empowered hundreds of thousands of black Americans to create better lives and stronger communities while establishing the template for the self-actualized, independent African American man. In death he became a broad symbol of both resistance and reconciliation for millions around the world.

Manning Marable‘s new biography of Malcolm is a stunning achievement. Filled with new information and shocking revelations that go beyond the Autobiography, Malcolm X unfolds a sweeping story of race and class in America, from the rise of Marcus Garvey and the Ku Klux Klan to the struggles of the civil rights movement in the fifties and sixties. Reaching into Malcolm’s troubled youth, it traces a path from his parents’ activism through his own engagement with the Nation of Islam, charting his astronomical rise in the world of Black Nationalism and culminating in the never-before-told true story of his assassination. Malcolm X will stand as the definitive work on one of the most singular forces for social change, capturing with revelatory clarity a man who constantly strove, in the great American tradition, to remake himself anew.

Viking Adult
Available April 4, 2011 in Hardcover

Last Bus Out by Beck McDowell

Last Bus Out is the true story of Courtney Miles, a boy who stole a bus and rescued over 300 people from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. While government officials posed for cameras, Courtney stepped up and showed what “drive” is all about. Even though he had no driver’s license and very little driving experience, he risked arrest and imprisonment to save his neighbors. Despite raising himself while his mother was in jail, Courtney stayed out of trouble and is now playing basketball on scholarship at a college in California.
Last Bus Out Last Bus Out
by Beck McDowell

Kirkland & Fort
Available November 7, 2010 in Paperback

Available August 21, 2010 as a Kindle Edition

Empire State of Mind: How Jay-Z Went from Street Corner to Corner Office

An in-depth look at the business behind Jay-Z’s hip-hop empire.

Jay-Z is one of the most recognizable names in entertainment. He’s been called one of the greatest rappers of all time, but music may end up as just a small part of a brilliant career. His combination of intelligence, instinct, and swagger have earned him a chain of nightclubs, a stake in the New Jersey Nets, and the status of a media mogul. Amazingly, he honed his business philosophy not at a fancy B school, but on the streets of Brooklyn, New York as a crack dealer in the 1980s.

Empire State of Mind is the story behind Jay-Z’s rise to the top as told by the people who lived it with him-the childhood friend who got him into the drug trade, the DJ who convinced him to stop dealing and focus on music, Damon Dash, Fab Five Freddie, and other hip-hop and business innovators.

Jay-Z’s story is compelling not just because of his celebrity, but also because it is a blueprint for success in any setting-a classic rags-to- riches American dream.

Empire State of Mind: How Jay-Z Went from Street Corner to Corner Office
by Zack O’Malley Greenburg

Portfolio Hardcover
Available March 17, 2011 in Hardcover

I Beat the Odds by Michael Oher

I Beat the Odds: From Homelessness, to The Blind Side, and Beyond
by Michael Oher with Don Yaeger

Gotham
Available February 8, 2011 in Hardcover

The football star made famous in the hit film The Blind Side reflects on how far he has come from the circumstances of his youth.

Michael Oher is the young man at the center of the true story depicted in The Blind Side movie (and book) that swept up awards and accolades. Though the odds were heavily stacked against him, Michael had a burning desire deep within his soul to break out of the Memphis inner-city ghetto and into a world of opportunity. While many people are now familiar with Oher’s amazing journey, this is the first time he shares his account of his story in his own words, revealing his thoughts and feelings with details that only he knows, and offering his point of view on how anyone can achieve a better life.

Looking back on how he went from being a homeless child in Memphis to playing in the NFL, Michael talks about the goals he had for himself in order to break out of the cycle of poverty, addiction, and hopelessness that trapped his family for so long. He recounts poignant stories growing up in the projects and running from child services and foster care over and over again in search of some familiarity. Eventually he grasped onto football as his ticket out of the madness and worked hard to make his dream into a reality. But Oher also knew he would not be successful alone. With his adoptive family, the Touhys, and other influential people in mind, he describes the absolute necessity of seeking out positive role models and good friends who share the same values to achieve one’s dreams.

Sharing untold stories of heartache, determination, courage, and love, I Beat the Odds is an incredibly rousing tale of one young man’s quest to achieve the American dream.

True You: A Journey to Finding and Loving Yourself by Janet Jackson

Available February 8, 2011 in Hardcover



Available March 15, 2012 in Paperback

Janet Jackson emerged from the shadows of an already famous family to become one of the most beloved, recognizable, and influential performers in the world. But at what cost?

From the age of ten, when she made her acting debut on Good Times, Janet was told by Hollywood that she needed to slim down. Her well-meaning brothers, especially fun-loving Michael, teased her relentlessly until she began to believe that who she was wasn’t good enough. It was an idea that no amount of critical acclaim in television and film or, later, international platinum success in music could change.

Janet turned to food for comfort and escape. She developed a self-destructive pattern familiar to so many of us: fear and uncertainty led to bad feelings about herself and ultimately depression. The depression led to overeating. And her yo-yoing weight was painfully obvious in the bright lights of the entertainment world.

It has taken Janet most of her adult life to come to terms with who she is. But she has finally broken free of the attitudes that brought her down and has embraced realistic goals that help her eat better, exercise better, feel better, and ultimately be better.

This book is about meeting those challenges that face all of us. With candor and courage, Janet shares her painful journey to loving herself. She addresses the crazy rumors that have swirled around her for most of her life, shines an intimate light on her family, and pulls us behind the velvet rope into her unforgettable career. She also shares lessons she has learned through contact with friends and fans and reveals the fitness secrets she has learned from her trainer. Finally, her nutritionist, David Allen, unveils the wholesome, delicious recipes and lifestyle-changing tips that helped Janet get in shape — mind and spirit, heart and soul.

True You is a call to tune in to your own fundamental wisdom, to let go of the ugly comparisons, and to understand that who you are, the true you, is more than enough.

True You: A Journey to Finding and Loving Yourself
by Janet Jackson, David Ritz

Karen Hunter

You Don’t Know Me: Reflections of My Father, Ray Charles by Ray Charles Robinson Jr.

You Don’t Know Me: Reflections of My Father, Ray Charles
by Ray Charles Robinson Jr., with Mary Jane Ross

A deeply personal memoir of the private Ray Charles – the man behind the legend – by his eldest son.

Ray Charles is an American music legend. A multiple Grammy Award-winning composer, pianist, and singer with an inimitable vocal style and a catalog of hits including “What I Say,” “Georgia on My Mind,” “Unchain My Heart,” “I Can’t Stop Loving You,” and “America the Beautiful,” Ray Charles’s music is loved by fans around the world.

Now his eldest son, Ray Charles Robinson Jr., shares an intimate glimpse of the man behind the music, with never-before-told stories. Going beyond the fame, the concerts, and the tours, Ray Jr. opens the doors of his family home and reveals their private lives with fondness and frankness.

He shares his father’s grief and guilt over his little brother’s death at the age of five — as well of moments of personal joy, like watching his father run his hands over the Christmas presents under their tree while singing softly to himself. He tells of how Ray overcame the challenges of being blind, even driving cars, riding a Vespa, and flying his own plane. And, in gripping detail, he reveals how as a six-year-old boy he saved his father’s life one harrowing night.

Ray Jr. writes honestly about the painful facts of the addiction that nearly destroyed his father’s life. His father’s struggles with heroin addiction, his arrests, and how he ultimately kicked the drug cold turkey are presented in unflinching detail. Ray Jr. also shares openly about how, as an adult, he fell victim to the same temptations that plagued his father.

He paints a compassionate portrait of his mother, Della, whose amazing voice as a gospel singer first attracted Ray Charles. Though her husband’s drug use, his womanizing, and the paternity suits leveled against him constantly threatened the stability of the Robinson home, Della exhibited incredible resilience and inner strength.

Told with deep love and fearless candor, You Don’t Know Me is the powerful and poignant story of the Ray Charles the public never saw — the father and husband and fascinating human being who also happened to be one of the greatest musicians of all time.

Harmony
Available June 8, 2010 in Hardcover

Louis Armstrong: The Sountrack of the American Experience by David Stricklin

Ivan R. Dee, Publisher
Available 04/16/10 in Hardcover

In the twentieth century, African Americans not only helped make popular music the soundtrack of the American experience, they advanced American music as one of the preeminent shapers of the world’s popular culture. Vast numbers of black American musicians deserve credit for this remarkable turn of events, but a few stand out as true giants. David Stricklin‘s superb new biography explores the life of one of them, Louis Armstrong.

Duke Ellington’s America by Harvey G. Cohen

University Of Chicago Press
Available 05/01/10 in Hardcover

Few American artists in any medium have enjoyed the lasting international cultural impact of Duke Ellington. From jazz standards such as “Mood Indigo” and “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore”, to his longer, more orchestral suites, to his leadership of the stellar big band he toured and performed with for decades after most big bands folded, Ellington represented a singular, pathbreaking force in music over the course of a half-century. At the same time, as one of the most prominent black public figures in history, Ellington demonstrated leadership on questions of civil rights and America’s role in the world.

With “Duke Ellington’s America”, Harvey G. Cohen paints a vivid picture of Ellington’s life and times, taking him from his youth in the black middle-class enclave of Washington, D.C., to the heights of world-wide acclaim. Mining extensive archives, many never before available, plus new interviews with Ellington’s friends, family, band members, and business associates, Cohen illuminates his constantly evolving approach to composition, performance, and the music business-as well as issues of race, equality, and religion. Ellington’s own voice, mean-while, animates the book throughout, giving “Duke Ellington’s America” an intimacy and immediacy unmatched by any previous account. By far the most thorough and nuanced portrait yet of this towering figure, “Duke Ellington’s America” highlights Ellington’s importance as a figure in American history as well as in American music.

In the Place of Justice by Wilbert Rideau

In the Place of Justice: A Story of Punishment and Deliverance
by Wilbert Rideau

Knopf
Available April 27, 2010 in Hardcover

From Wilbert Rideau, the award-winning journalist who spent forty-four years in Louisiana prisons working against unimaginable odds to redeem himself, the story of a remarkable life: a crime, its punishment, and ultimate triumph.

After killing a woman in a moment of panic following a botched bank robbery, Rideau, denied a fair trial, was improperly sentenced to death at the age of nineteen. After more than a decade on death row, his sentence was amended to life imprisonment, and he joined the inmate population of the infamous Angola penitentiary. Soon Rideau became editor of the prison newsmagazine The Angolite, which under his leadership became an uncensored, daring, and crusading journal instrumental in reforming the violent prison and the corrupt Louisiana justice system.

With the same incisive feel for detail that brought Rideau great critical acclaim, here he brings to vivid life the world of the prison through the power of his pen. We see Angola’s unique culture, encompassing not only rivalries, sexual slavery, ingrained racism, and daily, soul-killing injustices but also acts of courage and decency by keeper and kept alike. As we relive Rideau’s remarkable rehabilitation — he lived a more productive life in prison than do most outside — we also witness his long struggle for justice. In the Place of Justice goes far beyond the confines of a prison memoir, giving us a searing expose of the failures of our legal system framed within the dramatic tale of a man who found meaning, purpose, and hope in prison. This is a deeply moving, eloquent, and inspirational story about perseverance, unexpected friendships and love, and the possibility that good can be forged under any circumstances.

Oprah: A Biography by Kitty Kelley

Crown
Available 04/13/10 in Hardcover

Based on three years of research and reporting as well as 850 interviews with sources, many of whom have never before spoken for publication, Oprah is the first comprehensive biography of one of the most influential, powerful, and admired public figures of our time, by the most widely read biographer of our era. Anyone who is a fan of Oprah Winfrey or who has followed her extraordinary life and career will be fascinated and newly informed by the closely observed, detailed, and well-rounded portrait of her provided by Kitty Kelley‘s exhaustively researched book. Readers will come away with a greater appreciation of who Oprah really is beyond her public persona and a fuller understanding of her important place in American cultural history.