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Narrative Nonfiction

Amazon Extreme

Amazon Extreme

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Culminating in an astonishing victory that garnered major media coverage, this is the pulse-pounding story of three guys who truly went off the deep end, and one who came back to write a riveting recollection of their Amazon adventure. Two 8-page photo inserts. 3 maps.
America at Night

America at Night

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The True Story of Two Master Criminals Aiming to Take America's Biggest Prize and Our Security Agencies' Systematic Inability to Stop Them by the Former Intelligence Agent Recruited to Foil Their Plan Robert Sensi has worked for the CIA, the Republican National Committee, and, as cover, for Kuwait Airways and the Kuwaiti royal family. He has twice served time in federal prison for embezzlement and fraud. Richard Hirschfeld, originally recruited to the CIA by Sensi, boasts an equally illustrious past: in the seventies he duped investors out of millions of dollars, later allegedly stole a $12-million payoff from Ferdinand Marcos intended for Ronald Reagan, and came within a hairbreadth of conning the U.S. Senate out of $50 million. When the Department of Homeland Security suspects that Sensi and Hirschfeld are at the center of an investigation involving money laundering and the funding of Al Qaeda-and when their supposedly comprehensive database turns up little to no information on either man-it takes onetime spy Larry Kolb to crack the case, ultimately orchestrating Hirschfeld's spectacular capture. But when Kolb begins to connect the dots, he realizes something even more sinister is afoot, and that he's on to the biggest possible con with the highest political stakes.
America Day by Day

America Day by Day

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Here is the ultimate American road book, one with a perspective unlike that of any other. In January 1947 Simone de Beauvoir landed at La Guardia airport and began a four-month journey that took her from one coast of the United States to the other, and back again. Embraced by the Condé Nast set in a swirl of cocktail parties in New York, where she was hailed as the "prettiest existentialist" by Janet Flanner in The New Yorker, de Beauvoir traveled west by car, train, and Greyhound, immersing herself in the nation's culture, customs, people, and landscape. The detailed diary she kept of her trip became America Day by Day, published in France in 1948 and offered here in a completely new translation. It is one of the most intimate, warm, and compulsively readable texts from the great writer's pen.

Fascinating passages are devoted to Hollywood, the Grand Canyon, New Orleans, Las Vegas, and San Antonio. We see de Beauvoir gambling in a Reno casino, smoking her first marijuana cigarette in the Plaza Hotel, donning raingear to view Niagara Falls, lecturing at Vassar College, and learning firsthand about the Chicago underworld of morphine addicts and petty thieves with her lover Nelson Algren as her guide. This fresh, faithful translation superbly captures the essence of Simone de Beauvoir's distinctive voice. It demonstrates once again why she is one of the most profound, original, and influential writers and thinkers of the twentieth century.

On New York: "I walk between the steep cliffs at the bottom of a canyon where no sun penetrates: it's permeated by a salt smell. Human history is not inscribed on these carefully calibrated buildings: They are closer to prehistoric caves than to the houses of Paris or Rome."

On Los Angeles: "I watch the Mexican dances and eat chili con carne, which takes the roof off my mouth, I drink the tequila and I'm utterly dazed with pleasure."
American Baby

American Baby

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The shocking truth about postwar adoption in America, told through the bittersweet story of one teenager, the son she was forced to relinquish, and their search to find each other.

During the Baby Boom in 1960s America, women were encouraged to stay home and raise large families, but sex and childbirth were taboo subjects. Premarital sex was common, but birth control was hard to get and abortion was illegal. In 1961, sixteen-year-old Margaret Erle fell in love and became pregnant. Her enraged family sent her to a maternity home, and after she gave birth, she wasn't even allowed her to hold her own son. Social workers threatened her with jail until she signed away her parental rights. Her son vanished, his whereabouts and new identity known only to an adoption agency that would never share the slightest detail about his fate.

Claiming to be acting in the best interests of all, the adoption business was founded on secrecy and lies. American Baby lays out how a lucrative and exploitative industry removed children from their birth mothers and placed them with hopeful families, fabricating stories about infants' origins and destinations, then closing the door firmly between the parties forever. Adoption agencies and other organizations that purported to help pregnant women struck unethical deals with doctors and researchers for pseudoscientific assessments, and shamed millions of women into surrendering their children.

Gabrielle Glaser dramatically demonstrates the power of the expectations and institutions that Margaret faced. Margaret went on to marry and raise a large family with David's father, but she never stopped longing for and worrying about her firstborn. She didn't know he spent the first years of his life living just a few blocks away from her; as he grew, he wondered about where he came from and why he was given up. Their tale--one they share with millions of Americans--is one of loss, love, and the search for identity.

Adoption's closed records are being legally challenged in states nationwide. Open adoption is the rule today, but the identities of many who were adopted or who surrendered a child in the postwar decades are locked in sealed files. American Baby illuminates a dark time in our history and shows a path to reunion that can help heal the wounds inflicted by years of shame and secrecy.

American Bee

American Bee

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What the bestselling Word Freak did for Scrabble, this riveting narrative now does for the National Spelling Bee. Here is a captivating slice of Americana - part sporting event, part absorbing human drama, and part celebration of the magic of words.

Every spring in the nation's capital, after a starting pool of 10 million kids narrows to 250 finalists, America's top young spellers face off in a nail-biting contest. So electric is the drama that millions of viewers tune in to watch ESPN's live telecast

But this national obsession is much more than a sporting story - and this first-ever narrative nonfiction book about the National Spelling Bee immerses the reader in unique subculture, portraying the endearing fraternity of brilliant, eccentric young word nerds who vie for a gold trophy, a hefty check, and a glorious moment of national fame.

Author James Maguire, who like the contestants is an inveterate word nut, captures the agony and glory of this singularly American event. He profiles the top five spellers across the country, exploring their hopes and dreams - and strategies for winning - as they prepare for their moment in the spotlight. American Bee takes readers behind the scenes at the National Bee, providing a narrative thrill ride as the tension mounts round by round.

American Buffalo: In Search of a Lost Icon

American Buffalo: In Search of a Lost Icon

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In 2005, Steven Rinella won a lottery to hunt for a wild buffalo, or American bison, in the Alaskan wilderness. One of only four hunters that year who succeeded in killing a buffalo, he carried the carcass down a snow-covered mountainside and floated it four miles down a white-water canyon while being trailed by grizzly bears and suffering from hypothermia.Through this experience, Rinella found himself contemplating his own place among the 14,000 years' worth of buffalo hunters in North America and the place of the buffalo in the American consciousness. American Buffalo is a narrative tale of that hunt. But beyond that, it is the story of the many ways in which the buffalo has shaped our national identity. Rinella takes us across the continent in search of the buffalo's past, present, and future: to the Bering Strait Land Bridge; to buffalo jumps, where Native Americans ran buffalo over cliffs by the hundreds; even to the Bronx Zoo, where legend has it a depressed buffalo served as the model for the American nickel. Rinella's erudition and exuberance, combined with his gift for storytelling, make him the perfect guide for a book that combines outdoor adventure with history, science, and the natural world. And yet it also tells us as much about ourselves as Americans as it does about the creature who perhaps best of all embodies the American ethos.
American Childhood

American Childhood

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A book that instantly captured the hearts of readers across the country, "An American Childhood" is Pulitzer Prize-winning author Annie Dillard's poignant, vivid memoir of growing up in Pittsburgh in the 1950s.
American Fire

American Fire

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The arsons started on a cold November midnight and didn't stop for months. Night after night, the people of Accomack County waited to see which building would burn down next, regarding each other at first with compassion, and later suspicion. Vigilante groups sprang up, patrolling the rural Virginia coast with cameras and camouflage. Volunteer firefighters slept at their stations. The arsonist seemed to target abandoned buildings, but local police were stretched too thin to surveil them all. Accomack was desolate--there were hundreds of abandoned buildings. And by the dozen they were burning.

The culprit, and the path that led to these crimes, is a story of twenty-first century America. Washington Post reporter Monica Hesse first drove down to the reeling county to cover a hearing for Charlie Smith, a struggling mechanic who upon his capture had promptly pleaded guilty to sixty-seven counts of arson. But as Charlie's confession unspooled, it got deeper and weirder. He wasn't lighting fires alone; his crimes were galvanized by a surprising love story. Over a year of investigating, Hesse uncovered the motives of Charlie and his accomplice, girlfriend Tonya Bundick, a woman of steel-like strength and an inscrutable past. Theirs was a love built on impossibly tight budgets and simple pleasures. They were each other's inspiration and escape...until they weren't.

Though it's hard to believe today, one hundred years ago Accomack was the richest rural county in the nation. Slowly it's been drained of its industry--agriculture--as well as its wealth and population. In an already remote region, limited employment options offer little in the way of opportunity. A mesmerizing and crucial panorama with nationwide implications, American Fire asks what happens when a community gets left behind. Hesse brings to life the Eastern Shore and its inhabitants, battling a punishing economy and increasingly terrified by a string of fires they could not explain. The result evokes the soul of rural America--a land half gutted before the fires even began.

American Nomad

American Nomad

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Fascinated by the land of endless horizons, sunshine, and the open road, Richard Grant spent fifteen years wandering throughout the United States, never spending more than three weeks in one place and getting to know America's nomads ? truckers, tramps, rodeo cowboys, tie-dyed concert followers, flea market traders, retirees who live year round in their RV?s, and the murderous Freight Train Riders of America (FTRA). In a richly comic travelogue, Grant uses these lives and his own to examine the myths and realities of the wandering life, and its contradiction with the sedentary American dream.
Along with a personal account, American Nomads traces the history of wandering in the New World, through vividly told stories of frontiersmen, fur trappers and cowboys, Comanche and Apache warriors, all the way back to the first Spanish explorers who crossed the continent. What unites these disparate characters, as they range back and forth across the centuries, is a stubborn conviction that the only true freedom is to roam across the land.
American OZ

American OZ

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You'll never see your state fair or neighborhood festival the same again!

American Oz is a rollicking, gritty, adventurous story of life in the secretive subculture of traveling carnivals.

Comerford writes a bold, inspiring true story of a year working behind the scenes with the colorful characters and legends of carnivals.

He shares stories of freaks, a carnival pimp, a tramp gold miner, and the last King of the Sideshows. An insult dunk tank clown is shot. Masked gunmen rob his carnival. And a young showman friend dies on the road.

It's a new classic American road story as he hitchhikes to shows in California, New Jersey, New York, Chicago, Alaska, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Texas, Georgia, and Florida where he works in a freak show.

He becomes the #1 hitchhiker in the USA and a top agent at the State Fair of Texas.

He travels to the lawless foothills of Mexico to see the new face of the American carny. He exposes the truths about immigration, labor abuse, and living between two worlds.

Comerford finds carnival people seeking meaning and love in their lives, and the answers always seem to be somewhere down the road.

American Pharoah

American Pharoah

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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

History was made at the 2015 Belmont Stakes when American Pharoah won the Triple Crown, the first since Affirmed in 1978. As magnificent as the champion is, the team behind him has been all too human while on the road to immortality.

Written by an award-winning New York Times sportswriter, American Pharoah is the definitive account not only of how the ethereal colt won the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont Stakes, but how he changed lives. Through extensive interviews, Drape explores the making of an exceptional racehorse, chronicling key events en route to history. Covering everything from the flamboyant owner's successful track record, the jockey's earlier heartbreaking losses, and the Hall of Fame trainer's intensity, Drape paints a stirring portrait of a horse for the ages and the people around him.

American Pharoah

American Pharoah

$27.00
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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

History was made at the 2015 Belmont Stakes when American Pharoah won the Triple Crown, the first since Affirmed in 1978. As magnificent as the champion is, the team behind him has been all too human while on the road to immortality.

Written by an award-winning New York Times sportswriter, American Pharoah is the definitive account not only of how the ethereal colt won the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont Stakes, but how he changed lives. Through extensive interviews, Drape explores the making of an exceptional racehorse, chronicling key events en route to history. Covering everything from the flamboyant owner's successful track record, the jockey's earlier heartbreaking losses, and the Hall of Fame trainer's intensity, Drape paints a stirring portrait of a horse for the ages and the people around him.

American Rule: How a Nation Conquered the World But Failed Its People

American Rule: How a Nation Conquered the World But Failed Its People

$29.00
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From writer and political analyst Jared Yates Sexton comes an eye-opening journey through American history that unearths and debunks the myths we've always told ourselves.

Recent years have brought a reckoning in America. As rampant political corruption, stark inequality, and violent bigotry have come to the fore, many have faced two vital questions: How did we get here? And how do we move forward?

An honest look at the past--and how it's been covered up--is the only way to find the answers. Americans in power have abused and subjugated others since the nation's very beginning, and myths of America's unique goodness have both enabled that injustice and buried the truth for generations. In American Rule, Jared Yates Sexton blends deep research with stunning storytelling, digging into each era of growth and change that led us here--and laying bare the foundational myths at the heart of the American imagination.

Stirring, unequivocal, and impossible to put down, American Rule tells the truth about what this nation has always been--and challenges us to forge a new path.

American Vertigo: Traveling America in the Footsteps of the Tocqueville

American Vertigo: Traveling America in the Footsteps of the Tocqueville

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What does it mean to be an American, and what can America be today? To answer these questions, celebrated philosopher and journalist Bernard-Henri Lévy spent a year traveling throughout the country in the footsteps of another great Frenchman, Alexis de Tocqueville, whose Democracy in America remains the most influential book ever written about our country.
The result is American Vertigo, a fascinating, wholly fresh look at a country we sometimes only think we know. From Rikers Island to Chicago mega-churches, from Muslim communities in Detroit to an Amish enclave in Iowa, Lévy investigates issues at the heart of our democracy: the special nature of American patriotism, the coexistence of freedom and religion (including the religion of baseball), the prison system, the "return of ideology" and the health of our political institutions, and much more. He revisits and updates Tocqueville's most important beliefs, such as the dangers posed by "the tyranny of the majority," explores what Europe and America have to learn from each other, and interprets what he sees with a novelist's eye and a philosopher's depth.
Through powerful interview-based portraits across the spectrum of the American people, from prison guards to clergymen, from Norman Mailer to Barack Obama, from Sharon Stone to Richard Holbrooke, Lévy fills his book with a tapestry of American voices-some wise, some shocking. Both the grandeur and the hellish dimensions of American life are unflinchingly explored. And big themes emerge throughout, from the crucial choices America
faces today to the underlying reality that, unlike the "Old World," America remains the fulfillment of the world's desire to worship, earn, and live as one wishes-a place, despite all, where inclusion remains not just an ideal but an actual practice.
At a time when Americans are anxious about how the world perceives them and, indeed, keen to make sense of themselves, a brilliant and sympathetic foreign observer has arrived to help us begin a new conversation about the meaning of America.
American Vertigo: Traveling America in the Footsteps of Tocqueville

American Vertigo: Traveling America in the Footsteps of Tocqueville

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What does it mean to be an American, and what can America be today? To answer these questions, celebrated philosopher and journalist Bernard-Henri Levy spent a year traveling throughout the country in the footsteps of another great Frenchman, Alexis de Tocqueville, whose Democracy in America remains the most influential book ever written about our country.
The result is American Vertigo, a fascinating, wholly fresh look at a country we sometimes only think we know. From Rikers Island to Chicago mega-churches, from Muslim communities in Detroit to an Amish enclave in Iowa, Levy investigates issues at the heart of our democracy: the special nature of American patriotism, the coexistence of freedom and religion (including the religion of baseball), the prison system, the "return of ideology" and the health of our political institutions, and much more. He revisits and updates Tocqueville's most important beliefs, such as the dangers posed by "the tyranny of the majority," explores what Europe and America have to learn from each other, and interprets what he sees with a novelist's eye and a philosopher's depth.
Through powerful interview-based portraits across the spectrum of the American people, from prison guards to clergymen, from Norman Mailer to Barack Obama, from Sharon Stone to Richard Holbrooke, Levy fills his book with a tapestry of American voices-some wise, some shocking. Both the grandeur and the hellish dimensions of American life are unflinchingly explored. And big themes emerge throughout, from the crucial choices America
faces today to the underlying reality that, unlike the "Old World," America remains the fulfillment of the world's desire to worship, earn, and live as one wishes-a place, despite all, where inclusion remains not just an ideal but an actual practice.
At a time when Americans are anxious about how the world perceives them and, indeed, keen to make sense of themselves, a brilliant and sympathetic foreign observer has arrived to help us begin a new conversation about the meaning of America.
Americana: Dispatches from the New Frontier

Americana: Dispatches from the New Frontier

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Harley-Davidson bikers . . . Grand Canyon river rats. . . Mormon archaeologists . . . Spelling bee prodigies . . .

For more than fifteen years, best-selling author and historian Hampton Sides has traveled widely across the continent exploring the America that lurks just behind the scrim of our mainstream culture. Reporting for Outside, The New Yorker, and NPR, among other national media, the award-winning journalist has established a reputation not only as a wry observer of the contemporary American scene but also as one of our more inventive and versatile practitioners of narrative non-fiction.

In these two dozen pieces, collected here for the first time, Sides gives us a fresh, alluring, and at times startling America brimming with fascinating subcultures and bizarre characters who could live nowhere else. Following Sides, we crash the redwood retreat of an apparent cabal of fabulously powerful military-industrialists, drop in on the Indy 500 of bass fishing, and join a giant techno-rave at the lip of the Grand Canyon. We meet a diverse gallery of American visionaries-- from the impossibly perky founder of Tupperware to Indian radical Russell Means to skateboarding legend Tony Hawk. We retrace the route of the historic Bataan Death March with veterans from Sides' acclaimed WWII epic, Ghost Soldiers. Sides also examines the nation that has emerged from the ashes of September 11, recounting the harrowing journeys of three World Trade Center survivors and deciding at the last possible minute not to embed on the Iraqi front-lines with the U.S. Marines. Americana gives us a sparkling mosaic of our country, in all its wild and poignant charm.

Among Flowers

Among Flowers

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In this travel memoir, the acclaimed novelist Jamaica Kincaid chronicles a three-week trek through Nepal, the spectacular and exotic Himalayan land, where she and her companions are gathering seeds for planting at home. The natural world and, in particular, plants and gardening are central to Kincaid's work; in addition to such novels as Annie John and Lucy, Kincaid is the author of My Garden (Book): a collection of essays about her love of cultivating plants and gardens throughout her life. Among Flowers intertwines meditations on nature and stunning descriptions of the Himalayan landscape with observations on the ironies, difficulties, and dangers of this magnificent journey.

For Kincaid and three botanist friends, Nepal is a paradise, a place where a single day's hike can traverse climate zones, from subtropical to alpine, encompassing flora suitable for growing at their homes, from Wales to Vermont. Yet as she makes clear, there is far more to this foreign world than rhododendrons that grow thirty feet high. Danger, too, is a constant companion--and the leeches are the least of the worries. Unpredictable Maoist guerillas live in these perilous mountains, and when they do appear--as they do more than once--their enigmatic presence lingers long after they have melted back into the landscape. And Kincaid, who writes of the looming, lasting effects of colonialism in her works, necessarily explores the irony of her status as memsahib with Sherpas and bearers.

A wonderful blend of introspective insight and beautifully rendered description, Among Flowers is a vivid, engrossing, and characteristically frank memoir from one of our most striking voices.

Among the Living and the Dead

Among the Living and the Dead

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"It's long been assumed of the region where my grandmother was born...that at some point each year the dead will come home," Inara Verzemnieks writes in this exquisite story of war, exile, and reconnection. Her grandmother's stories recalled one true home: the family farm left behind in Latvia, where, during WWII, her grandmother Livija and her grandmother's sister, Ausma, were separated. They would not see each other again for more than 50 years. Raised by her grandparents in Washington State, Inara grew up among expatriates, scattering smuggled Latvian sand over the coffins of the dead, singing folk songs about a land she had never visited.

When Inara discovers the scarf Livija wore when she left home, in a box of her grandmother's belongings, this tangible remnant of the past points the way back to the remote village where her family broke apart. There it is said the suspend their exile once a year for a pilgrimage through forests and fields to the homes they left behind. Coming to know Ausma and the trauma of her exile to Siberia under Stalin, Inara pieces together Livija's survival through years as a refugee. Weaving these two parts of the family story together in spellbinding, lyrical prose, she gives us a profound and cathartic account of loss, survival, resilience, and love.