NonFiction: New Bio of Jimi Hendrix, America 101, Lady Liberty, the Filthy Thirteenth, and the Wounds of Warby Larry Cox on May. 29, 2012, under Uncategorized
Jimi Hendrix: A Brother’s Story by Leon Hendrix with Adam Mitchell (Thomas Dunne Books, $25.99)
Jimi Hendrix was a song writer and is considered one of the greatest electric guitarists ever. He made his first studio recording in 1964 and soon established himself as a significant and definitive force in American pop music. He electrified the crowd at Woodstock in 1969, and played to sold-out audiences and triggered the sales of millions of recordings during his scant three years in the limelight.
It all came to a crashing end after a night of partying in 1970. Hendrix was found dead in a London flat. Tragically, he was 27. Few musicians, before and since, have had such an impact in musical history.
Although several books have been written about the artist, this one has a different perspective since it is Jimi’s life as seen through the eyes of his younger brother, Leon. This highly readable book reveals the origin and meaning of many of the classic Hendrix tunes, which Jimi often played for his brother over the phone while he composed and was on the road.
The complicated family dynamic, the culture of sex and drugs that came with Jimi’s fame is also chronicled. This biography is being released just months before what would have been Jimi’s 70th birthday.
Stuff Every American Should Know by Denise Kiernan and Joseph D’Agnese (Quirk, $9.95)
Denise Kiernan and Joseph D’Agnese are back following the success for their previous book, “Signing Their Rights Away.”
Their latest literary effort is a little gem filled with facts Americans should know but probably don’t. In addition to facts, they also set the record straight on popular myths. For example, if you think Levis Strauss invented blue jeans, you would be wrong. All is revealed on page 14. Spoiler alert: it was the French not a San Francisco merchant.
What the Bill of Rights actually allow us to do, why fireworks are such an important part of our Fourth of July celebrations, and how Mount Rushmore came about are also addressed. A fun fact I didn’t know concerns the Statue of Liberty. This American icon, which was a gift from the French, is made of copper and (this is the part I didn’t know) about the same thickness as two pennies pressed together.
What could be more American than the hamburger? Directions for making the perfect one is on page 76.
The Statue of Liberty: A Transatlantic Story by Edward Berenson (Yale University Press, $25)
History is full of unexpected twists and turns. The story behind the Statue of Liberty, perhaps the most beloved of American symbols, is no exception.
The history of the statue began when a small group of French intellectuals decided to build it as a gift and tribute to American liberty. Without official backing, construction began. Sculptor Auguste Bartholdi began his design, modeling Lady Liberty’s face after the likeness of his mother. After a decade, the statue was finally completed and introduced to the public during the autumn of 1886.
Although it seems unthinkable today, American was rather reluctant to accept the 450,000 pound gift. The scramble to find enough money to complete the project was problematic until Joseph Pulitzer threw the weight of his publishing empire to rally public support and donations.
Edward Berenson, a professor of history at New York University, has written a highly readable history. His book is meticulously researched and crisply written.
Fighting with the Filthy Thirteenth: The World War II Story of Jack Womer, Ranger and Paratrooper by Jack Womer and Stephen C. Devito (Casemate, $32.95)
The Filthy Thirteenth was the notorious squad of fighting men in the 101st Airborne Division and the inspiration for the movie, “The Dirty Dozen.”
In this long awaited memoir by one of the squad’s integral members, Jack Womer reveals his own inside account of fighting as a spearhead of the Screaming Eagles in Normandy, Holland, and the Battle of the Bulge. His induction, unique training, combat experiences, emotional and psychological impact on Womer are all chronicled in this fascinating account.
Womer provides an amazing franbk look at close-quarters combat in Europe, as well as the almost surreal experience of dust-bowl-era GIs entertaing country after country in their grapple with the Wehrmacht, finally ending up in triumph in Hitler’s mountaintop lair in Germany itself.
Autopsy of War: A Personal History by John A. Parrish, M.D. (Thomas dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press, $25.99)
This book is difficult to read because of its unflinching honesty and candor.
Dr. John Parrish was a triage physician at the height of the Vietnam War. He often treated as many as thirty patients each day with wounds more destructive and life-altering than anything he had previously encountered. One of the most outrageous incidents occurred during the Tet Offensive when the Viet Cong executed patients and nuns for the simple reason that they had been treated by an American doctor. The emotional scars from Vietnam were deep and even after he returned home to the United States his personal conflicts continued.
Parrish was haunted by his guilt of leaving behind so much suffering. As he tried to return to his medical work, he became remote to both his wife and children. When he began experiencing harrowing flashbacks, he knew he had to seek professional help.
This is a wrenching account. It is so moving and intimate, pain of the narrative remains long after the last page has been read. As Parrish writes, “I accept that there will always be war but I want to believe that more can be done to help its victims specifically the warriors who have left the battlefield but not their personal war.” This book, hopefully, will be therapeutic for Parrish and an important step in his healing process.