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Day 11: Must-Read Biographies and Memoirs

Take an intimate look at famous figures throughout history.

Today, we're highlighting books that take an in-depth look at some of history's most compelling and controversial figures.

From biographies of artist Andy Warhol and environmentalist Rachel Carson to autobiographical accounts from apartheid-era South Africa, pick up a fascinating new read—on sale today only, starting at $2.99.

These deals expire December 13th at midnight. Check out the 12 Days of Deals main page for a new day of deals.

Buy The Tender Land at Amazon

The Tender Land

By Kathleen Finneran

A superb portrait of family life, The Tender Land is a love story unlike any other. The Finnerans—parents and five children, Irish Catholics in St. Louis—are a seemingly unexceptional family. Theirs is a story seldom told, yet it makes manifest how rich and truly extraordinary the ordinary daily experience we take for granted is. In quietly luminous language, Kathleen Finneran renders the emotional, spiritual, and physical terrain of family life—its closeness and disconnection, its intimacy and estrangement—and pays tribute to the love between parents and children, brothers and sisters.

Ultimately, it is this love that sustains the Finnerans, for at the heart of The Tender Land lies a catastrophic event: the suicide at fifteen of the author’s younger brother after a public humiliation in junior high school. A gentle, handsome boy, Sean was a straight-A student and gifted athlete, especially treasured by every member of his family. Masterfully, the book interweaves past and present, showing how inseparable they are, and how the long accumulation of love and memory helps the Finnerans survive their terrible loss.

Deal price: $2.99

The Tender Land

By Kathleen Finneran

Buy Menagerie Manor at Amazon

Menagerie Manor

By Gerald Durrell

The author of the Corfu Trilogy recounts the delights—and challenges—of opening a private zoo on the English Channel Island of Jersey.

Spurred by his passion for animals and a lifelong dream, in the spring of 1959 Gerald Durrell opened the Jersey Zoo—now known as the Durrell Wildlife Park—on the grounds of an old manor house. The menagerie provided a safe habitat for rare and endangered species and exposed its human visitors to the wonders of nature.

Dealing with escapee animals and overdrawn bank accounts, Durrell soon discovered that owning and operating a fledgling zoo was no easy task. But despite the setbacks, these charming, often hilarious stories make clear that, for Durrell, ensuring the park’s success and helping the creatures he loved so dearly was worth any obstacle.

Deal price: $2.99

Menagerie Manor

By Gerald Durrell

Buy Growing Up Gronk at Amazon

Growing Up Gronk

By Gordon Gronkowski

It is so statistically unlikely as to be almost unbelievable. Somehow, the Gronkowski family has produced three sons who play in the NFL (Rob, Chris, and Dan), one who was drafted into Major League Baseball (Gordie, Jr.), and another who is the starting fullback for Kansas State (Goose). Their father, Gordy, even played college football for Syracuse.

How did it happen? From an early age, Gordy realized the potential his sons had and worked with them to make the most of it. Beyond their monstrous size, physicality, and raw talent, he instilled in them a commitment to fitness, health, drive, and determination that would give his boys a leg up in ways other families simply couldn’t match. And the boys’ motivation certainly wasn’t something solely triggered by a driven father. They were like a pack of adolescent wolves readying themselves for the recruiting hunt. Still, all were honor roll students; the three oldest earned college degrees. Each was motivated and inspired by his brothers. Competition and bragging rights were—and continue to be—a big part of what makes the Gronkowskis tick. Growing Up Gronk reveals the secrets to the Gronkowskis’ astonishing collective success while opening the door to a lively, entertaining, one-of-a-kind household.

Deal price: $2.99

Growing Up Gronk

By Gordon Gronkowski

Buy Andy Warhol at Amazon

Andy Warhol

By Wayne Koestenbaum

A man who created portraits of the rich and powerful, Andy Warhol was one of the most incendiary figures in American culture, a celebrity whose star shone as brightly as those of the Marilyns and Jackies whose likenesses brought him renown. Images of his silvery wig and glasses are as famous as his renderings of soup cans and Brillo boxes—controversial works that elevated commerce to high art. Warhol was an enigma: a partygoer who lived with his mother, an inarticulate man who was a great aphorist, an artist whose body of work sizzles with sexuality but who considered his own body to be a source of shame.

In critic and poet Wayne Koestenbaum’s dazzling look at Warhol’s life, the author inspects the roots of Warhol’s aesthetic vision, including the pain that informs his greatness, and reveals the hidden sublimity of Warhol’s provocative films. By looking at many facets of the artist’s oeuvre—films, paintings, books, “Happenings”—Koestenbaum delivers a thought-provoking picture of pop art’s greatest icon.

Deal price: $2.99

Andy Warhol

By Wayne Koestenbaum

Buy Half the Way Home at Amazon

Half the Way Home

By Adam Hochschild

A New York Times Notable Book: “An extraordinarily moving portrait of the complexities and confusions of familial love” (Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times).

From the author of the bestselling King Leopold's Ghost, this haunting and deeply honest memoir tells of Adam Hochschild's conflicted relationship with his father, the head of a multinational mining corporation. The author lyrically evokes his privileged childhood on an Adirondack estate, a colorful uncle who was a pioneer aviator and fighter ace, and his first explorations of the larger world he encountered as he came of age in the tumultuous 1960s. But above all this is a story of a father and his only son and of the unexpected peace finally made between them.

Deal price: $2.99

Half the Way Home

By Adam Hochschild

Buy Rachel Carson at Amazon

Rachel Carson

By Linda Lear

The authoritative biography of the marine biologist and nature writer whose book Silent Spring inspired the global environmentalist movement.

Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, published in 1962, did more than any other single publication to alert the world to the hazards of environmental poisoning and to inspire a powerful social movement that would alter the course of American history. This definitive, sweeping biography shows the origins of Carson's fierce dedication to natural science—and tells the dramatic story of how Carson, already a famous nature writer, became a brilliant if reluctant reformer. Drawing on unprecedented access to sources and interviews, Lear masterfully explores the roots of Carson's powerful connection to the natural world, crafting a "fine portrait of the environmentalist as a human being" (Smithsonian).

Deal price: $2.99

Rachel Carson

By Linda Lear

Buy In Search of Bisco at Amazon

In Search of Bisco

By Erskine Caldwell

Five decades removed from his own Southern childhood, novelist Erskine Caldwell sets out on a journey to find an old friend—a friend lost to him through the culture of segregation. As Caldwell follows a trail through Georgia, South Carolina, and much of the Deep South in search of his black childhood friend Bisco, his interviews with white and black Americans expose a range of attitudes that are tragic, if not surprising.

Published in the mid-1960s just as the South was undergoing a radical transformation by freedom marches and sit-ins, In Search of Bisco offers a heartfelt account of the civil rights movement by one of the region’s fiercest critics and most prominent sons.

This ebook features an illustrated biography of Erskine Caldwell including rare photos and never-before-seen documents courtesy of the Dartmouth College Library.

Deal price: $2.99

In Search of Bisco

By Erskine Caldwell

Buy Killer at Amazon

Killer

By Joey the Hit Man

The Bronx-born son of a Jewish bootlegger, “Joey the Hit Man” was introduced to crime when he was just eleven years old. For the next thirty years, he was a numbers king, scalper, loan shark, enforcer, and drug smuggler. He hijacked trucks, fenced stolen goods, and trafficked in pornography. But Joey really made his name as a Mafia assassin, racking up thirty-eight cold-blooded hits—thirty-five for cash, three for revenge.

In Killer, Joey tells the true story of life in organized crime. He exposes the reality of gang wars, discusses how he raised a family while living on the wrong side of the law, and documents the day-to-day business of crime—from making and breaking alliances to staying one step ahead of the cops. He reveals how he faced a grand jury seven times with no convictions (“never lie to your lawyer”) and kept a seven-figure fortune out of reach of the IRS. He lays out in graphic detail the difference between getting paid to kill and doing it for personal reasons. “People think because they saw [The Godfather] they know everything there is to know about organized crime,” Joey contends. In this no-holds-barred account, he reveals the brutal truth behind the Hollywood fantasy.

Deal price: $2.99

Killer

By Joey the Hit Man

Buy Honorary White at Amazon

Honorary White

By E. R. Braithwaite

As a black man living in a white-dominated world, author E. R. Braithwaite was painfully aware of the multitude of injustices suffered by people of color, and he wrote powerfully and poignantly about racial discrimination in his acclaimed novels and nonfiction works. So it came as a complete surprise when, in 1973, the longstanding ban on his books was lifted by the South African government, a ruling body of minority whites that brutally oppressed the black majority through apartheid laws. Applying for a visa—and secretly hoping to be refused—he was granted the official status of “Honorary White” for the length of his stay. As such, Braithwaite would be afforded some of the freedoms that South Africa’s black population was denied, yet would nonetheless be considered inferior by the white establishment.

With Honorary White, Braithwaite bears witness to a dark and troubling time, relating with grave honesty and power the shocking abuses, inequities, and horrors he observed and experienced firsthand during his six-week stay in a criminal nation. His book is a personal testament to the savagery of apartheid and to the courage of those who refused to be broken by it.

Deal price: $2.99

Honorary White

By E. R. Braithwaite

Buy Anything Your Little Heart Desires at Amazon

Anything Your Little Heart Desires

By Patricia Bosworth

Patricia Bosworth’s striking and compelling memoir of power, politics, and family through one of the most defining eras in American history.

The FBI kept a secret dossier on him. He was a confidante to stars; adviser to politicians; and lawyer to the likes of William Randolph Hearst, Rita Hayworth, and the blacklisted Hollywood Ten, whom he defended during the House Un-American Activities Committee trials of 1947. Bartley C. Crum was also Patricia Bosworth’s father—a frequently absent, unrelentingly principled, and stubbornly self-destructive one. Anything Your Little Heart Desires is Bosworth’s memoir of life with him, and of the momentous events that shaped his lifetime, from the New Deal to the Cold War and the anti-Communist fervor that jolted American life.

Using interviews, journals, letters, and her father’s own files, Bosworth delivers a profoundly personal portrait of the father she never fully knew, and the political forces that shaped a nation.

Deal price: $2.99

Anything Your Little Heart Desires

By Patricia Bosworth

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Published on 13 Dec 2017

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