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The Early Word: New Books for the Week of November 3, 2008

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This Early Word comes with a promise to spread a wealth of information around, just in time for Election Day…

Traitor to His Class: The Privileged Life and Radical Presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt
By H. W. Brands

Delving into considerable archival materials, personal letters, public speeches, and familial and professional accounts, prolific historian and biographer H. W. Brands offers up an accessible (don’t let the book title scare you) life history of — according to the rankings of most scholars — the greatest American President of the 20th century. Traitor to His Class: The Privileged Life and Radical Presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt chronicles the right president at the right time, one admired by Democrats and Republicans alike, and one who, elected for four unprecedented terms, oversaw the United States through a domestic economic crisis in the 1930s and led the country to victory in World War II.

This polio-weathered Knickerbocker aristocrat, of course, profoundly transformed the office and the country by acting boldly and swiftly (and sometimes too rashly and wrongly in a few New Deal alphabet soup set-ups), applying his discipline and drive to vastly expand the federal government and executive power. Upon taking office in 1932 and facing a worldwide economic depression, FDR pledged to ask Congress "for the one remaining instrument to meet the crisis – broad executive power … as great as the power that would be given to me if we were in fact invaded by a foreign foe." A decade later, the Great Depression having capitulated to the concerns of the War, Roosevelt had consolidated his authority and popularity to the extent that he is considered by Brands to have been "the most powerful man in American history." And among the most beloved.

Thames: The Biography
By Peter Ackroyd

"The Thames has been a highway, a frontier and an attack route; it has been a playground and a sewer, a source of water and a source of power," writes acclaimed author and biographer Peter Ackroyd in Thames: The Biography, his meandering yet compelling cultural history of England’s famed 215-mile river. In delving into the rich historical touchstones, from Julius Caesar to Anne Boleyn, and visiting all the towns and villages along the river from Oxfordshire to London, Ackroyd covers the waterfront in such interdisciplinary areas as art: it inspired paintings by Turner and Monet; and architecture: Normans built the Tower of London and Windsor Castle as symbols of military might. The Thames' geological history places it as part of a mega-river that comprised, among others, the Rhine. Furthermore, Ackroyd also chronicles the Thames' long religious history, its shrines and saints, and the river as a place of royal power. In a more mundane manner, Thames offers notable portraits of the ordinary men and women who depend upon the river for their livelihoods. Illustrated with maps and photographs.

Hollywood Foto-Rhetoric: The Lost Manuscript
By Bob Dylan

…send out for some pillars and Cecil B. DeMille:
Emerging for the first time after more than 40 years, Hollywood Foto-Rhetoric is a long-lost manuscript, consisting of 23 prose poems, written by Bob Dylan in the 1960s and inspired by renowned photographer Barry Feinstein's portraits of Tinseltown. Images of such icons as McQueen, Dietrich, and Sinatra abound, while evocative photos of starlets, backlots, and SoCal sunsets evoke the timeless allure and coming attractions of all things Hollywood. And all accompanied by Dylan’s surreal quixotic text, written as if he could die happily ever after…

MORE NON-FICTION:

Running for My Life: My Journey in the Game of Football and Beyond
By Warrick Dunn, Don Yaeger

Jeff Foxworthy's Complete Redneck Dictionary
By Jeff Foxworthy

World Is What It Is: The Authorized Biography of V. S. Naipaul
By Patrick French

Somebody: The Reckless Life and Remarkable Career of Marlon Brando

By Stefan Kanfer

My Word Is My Bond: A Memoir
By Sir Roger Moore

In Spite of Myself: A Memoir
By Christopher Plummer

Sweet Land of Liberty: The Forgotten Struggle for Civil Rights in the North
By Thomas Sugrue

Oneness with All Life: Inspirational Selections from A New Earth
By Eckhart Tolle 

FICTION:

Divine Justice
By David Baldacci

Santa Clawed (Mrs. Murphy Mystery Series #17)
By Rita Mae Brown

Swallowing Darkness (Meredith Gentry Series #7)
By Laurell K. Hamilton

The Price of Butcher's Meat (Dalziel and Pascoe Series #23)
By Reginald Hill

Salvation in Death (In Death Series #27)
By J. D. Robb

Midnight: A Gangster Love Story
By Sister Souljah

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