July2016 Booklist 5 www.booklistonline.com
established, the authors pair samples from
pop culture with philosophical concerns of
our current secular age. Lest readers think
this is only for fantasy fans, Scandal and
House of Cards get the apocalyptic consideration as well. As the authors note, apocalypse
tells us who we are as humans. A thought-provoking book that, despite its seemingly
dire subject matter, leaves plenty of room for
hope. —Christine Engel
The Murderous History of Bible
Translations: Power, Conflict, and
the Quest for Meaning.
By Harry Freedman.
Nov. 2016. 256p. Bloomsbury, $28 (9781632866011).
For readers who take for granted the easy
availability of the Bible in every library—in
every hotel room!—Freedman’s engrossing
history of Biblical translations documents the
high human cost of such availability. Freedman devotes particular attention to William
Tyndale, the brilliant sixteenth-century polyglot strangled and then burned as a heretic
by clerics outraged by his challenge to their
control of Holy Writ in England. But readers
encounter all too many other
Jan Hus of Bohemia and
Jacob van Liesveldt of Holland—who paid the same
price for similar offenses.
Merely reading from the Bible in vernacular Gallic sent
the medieval beguine Marguerite Ponte to the stake. Such martyrdom
underscores the tensions running throughout a narrative stretching from ancient fights
between Jewish and Christian scholars wrangling over the Hebrew word almah, through
Reformation-era disputes between Protestant
and Catholic exegetes arguing over the Greek
word ecclesia, to modern debates between
progressives and conservatives split over masculine scriptural pronouns. Despite the rancor,
Freedman recognizes that the best Bible translations—including the one Luther delivered
in painstakingly wrought sixteenth-century
German and the one James I commissioned
in poetic seventeenth-century English—have
forever enriched world literature. A fascinating
look at the tangled backstory of the Western
world’s Good Book. —Bryce Christensen
American Heiress: The Wild Saga of
the Kidnapping, Crimes, and Trial of
By Jeffrey Toobin.
Aug. 2016. 368p. Doubleday, $28.95 (9780385536714).
On February 4, 1974, two women and
one man burst into the Berkeley, California,
apartment that Patricia Hearst, heir to the
fortune of newspaper magnate William Ran-
dolph Hearst, shared with her fiancé, Steven
thrashing, screaming, 19-year-old Hearst
into the trunk of their car. This was the start
of a prolonged, violent, and sometimes ab-
surd cross-country odyssey that led from
cramped, filthy safe houses
to isolated rural farmhous-
es. The kidnapping, travels,
and trials of Hearst and
her “companions” would
draw in a variety of willing
and unwilling characters,
including a radical sports
journalist; a greedy, alco-
holic, but brilliant defense attorney; and
even a high-school baseball player. The saga
transfixed the nation as key moments played
out on national television, including a hor-
rific shootout and fire in which some of the
kidnappers died, and during which Hearst,
rebellious and unhappy about her impend-
ing marriage, appeared to embrace the cause
espoused by her abductors, members of the
Symbionese Liberation Army. With access to
previously off-limit documents, best-selling
Toobin (The Oath, 2012), New Yorker staff
writer and senior legal analyst for CNN, has
written an outstandingly detailed and in-
sightful account of the Hearst case and its
impact. —Jay Freeman
HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Toobin’s
high media visibility and a major national campaign, including an author tour, will ensure
that this book is in the news.
Blood at the Root: A Racial
Cleansing in America.
By Patrick Phillips.
Sept. 2016. 320p. illus. Norton, $26.95
As current political discourse addresses controversial notions regarding immigrants and
race relationships, the events Phillips describes
in this harrowing chronicle
of racial cleansing in Forsyth
County, Georgia, in the early
twentieth century feels eerily
contemporary and all-too
relevant. From murder to
rape to robbery, virtually every crime committed in this
rural Atlanta farming community in 1912 was attributed to marauding
black men. The fact that there was no credible
evidence to support these beliefs was secondary; white townspeople rushed to judgment,
assigning guilt and sentencing to death the
black men they deemed responsible. Lynchings were commonplace; night-riding arsonists
burned and bombed black families out of their
homes, turning Forsyth County into a whites-only enclave, segregation that would endure
for decades. The child of parents who were part
of a small cadre of white homeowners brave
enough to challenge the status quo, Phillips,
nonetheless, subjugates his personal connections in pursuit of the larger story of ethnic
profiling and its elaborate cover-up. Although
he is an award-winning poet, translator, and
Booklist reviewers are looking forward to reading and writing about the latest literary novel by a National Book Award fiction writer, the twelfth entry in an avidly loved
thriller series, a historical novel about a little-known aspect of the life of an exiled emperor, and a biography of a long-reigning comic of chutzpah. —Donna Seaman
The Boat Rocker. By Ha Jin. Pantheon, $25.95 (9780307911629). Oct.
Prizewinning Ha Jin turns in a taut novel about a valiant and revered Chinese expat
investigative reporter who dares to dig into the secrecy surrounding his ex-wife, a writer
conspiring with the Chinese government to advance her career.
Last Girl before Freeway: The Life, Loves, Losses, and Liberation of Joan Rivers.
By Leslie Bennetts. Little, Brown, $27 (9780316261302). Nov.
Bennetts, a Vanity Fair writer, offers a candid biography of the late, great, trailblazing
comedian Joan Rivers, who, over a 60-year career, smashed down many barriers, asserted many truths about women and sexism, and had us all laughing and gasping in
amazement and admiration.
Napoleon’s Last Island. By Thomas Keneally. Atria, $30 (9781501128424). Oct.
Historical-fiction star Keneally, always cited for Schindler’s List and the author of more
than 30 other novels, tells the story of the unlikely friendship between Napoleon in exile
on the island of Saint Helena and a young British girl who lived there with her family.
Night School. By Lee Child. Delacorte, $28.99 (9780804178808). Nov.
Child’s internationally best-selling Jack Reacher series hits the dozen-title mark with this
intricate tale set in 1996, when Reacher is sent to a classroom to meet with two other
top operatives, then plunges into a counterterrorist mission that takes them to Hamburg,
Jalalabad, Kiev, and a world of trouble.
HIGH-DEMAND HOT LIST