What makes Little Brother important and a must-read certainly for St. Louisans is its powerful account of a slice of Black life in our region, a vivid picture of the good and the beautiful and the bad and the ugly of North County, a life cordoned off from the rest of St. Louis as if it were a leper colony. Westhoff’s account of the families, the male bravado, the petty crime, the violence, the art and aesthetic of its rap culture, all of this is worth the price of the book. For what Westhoff reveals is the vast profundity buried in the absurdity of Black urban life that also reveals the inadequacy, hypocrisy, and flawed nature of White bourgeois life.
In Bailey’s version of the trial—as the subtitle of his book declares—he was the master strategist and courtroom impresario while Robert Shapiro was the bumbling and increasingly envious knucklehead who blew the preliminary hearing, believed O.J.’s best option was to seek a plea deal to manslaughter, and, when he learned that the jury had reached a verdict, made a panicked call to Alan Dershowitz to prepare the appeal.
The poet is the kind of trail guide to whom you ask, “How did we get here?” You may retrace your steps to find an answer, although you are more likely to find other questions, or step onto other trails you had not observed before.
Here is the story of how the development of nuclear power that had peacetime possibilities and Hyman Rickover’s personality merged at an essential moment to create a reactor that worked by 1953. Someone else could have developed the nuclear sub, but no one could have done it as quickly and as well as Rickover did.
Shot at a Brothel tells, crisply and succinctly, the story of the rise and fall of Oscar Bonavena, a significant, though not great, boxer of the 1960s and 1970s. Like the other books in the Hamilcar Noir series, it shows the underbelly of the world of boxing through short biographies of fighters who sustained tragic ends.
Songs of America: Patriotism, Protest and the Music That Made a Nation leans heavily on metaphors of harmony and dissonance with results that are often thought-provoking. The authors honor their subtitle by devoting sustained attention to musical statements of both patriotism and protest, and most importantly making it clear that these categories overlap. Their vision of United States history, while it values dissent, ultimately aims for a reassuring consensus as shouts of protest inevitably find their way into the great American songbook.
Clint Smith asks if we have the will to reckon with our past, for “the story of slavery is the history of America. It is etched into every corner of this country and beyond.”
Integrated into this flattering memoir of Limbaugh is Golden’s autobiography, his adventures in radioland as a data analyst, a producer, a call screener, and an on-air personality. The book also devotes considerable space to Golden’s political views as a Black conservative.
Trump supporters may consider William P. Barr something of a modern-day Judas Iscariot, while Trump critics will deem him to be a shameless apologist. But those who take the time to read One Damn Thing After Another: Memoirs of an Attorney General will learn a great deal and have the chance to draw their own conclusions.