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Books

Portraits of Purpose Ken Cooper
Courtesy of Ken Cooper

Former Post-Dispatch and St. Louis American reporter Ken Cooper just published his first book, "Portraits of Purpose: A Tribute to Leadership."  The book is a collaboration with the photographer Don West and chronicles the lives of influential Bostonian African Americans. Yet, nestled within the book’s 116 profiles are the stories of five St. Louisans.

Race is a social concept, not a scientific one.

“Biology shows us there are no real races in the world,” Washington University physical anthropology professor Robert Wald Sussman told “St. Louis on the Air” host Don Marsh on Monday. “Humans are just humans, basically.”

Sussman explores how religion, pseudo-science and prejudice have been used since the Spanish Inquisition to promote racism, eugenics and anti-immigration policies in his book “The Myth of Race: The Troubling Persistence of an Unscientific Idea.”

Author explores the paradox of parenting

Feb 24, 2015
Jennifer Senior is the author of 'All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood.'
Laura Rose / Harper Collins

Since the 1950s, social scientists have been asking who’s happier: parents or nonparents. In the U.S., the nonparents seem to win.

“To me, it’s just kind of baffling and inadequate,” author Jennifer Senior told “St. Louis on the Air” host Don Marsh on Tuesday. “It’s demoralizing. It’s insufficient. It doesn’t tell you very much. But it was that body of literature that got me interested in the question generally: How do kids affect their moms and dads?”

Psychologist Wes Crenshaw
Courtesy of Wes Crenshaw

Sex. That little three-letter word strikes fear in many parents’ hearts.

Psychologist Wes Crenshaw told “St. Louis on the Air” host Don Marsh on Monday that the biggest mistake parents make when trying to talk to their kids about sex is “freaking out.”

“Parents just cannot afford to think their kids are the least bit naïve. Kids are tied into the internet and to each other. They know way too much nowadays to take simple answers,” Crenshaw said. Rather than a one-time conversation, talking about sex and sex education is an almost endless conversation, he said.

Meet The Man Behind Lemony Snicket

Feb 13, 2015
Daniel Handler
Meredith Heuer

Go ahead; call David Handler’s work weird and bizarre. He’ll thank you.

Handler has written novels for adults as well as two series for children written under the pen name Lemony Snicket. His latest novel, “We Are Pirates,” is for adults, but it’s still quirky.

Bill Greenblatt / UPI

A few years ago, Mike Matheny was coaching a youth baseball team. He wrote what has become known as the Matheny Manifesto, a letter to his team’s parents. “I always said that the only team I would coach would be a team of orphans,” the letter began before asking parents to butt out of coaching.

If walls could talk, then those of the U.S. District Court of Eastern Missouri would have a lot to say.

Historian Burton Boxerman worked with a group of prominent attorneys and district court judges to capture some of the court’s tales in “And Justice for All: A History of the Federal District Court of Eastern Missouri.”

The court got its start in 1822, less than a year after Missouri became a state. Many of the court’s early cases were related to the Missouri and Mississippi rivers.

Author Shares His Quest For Work That Matters

Jan 27, 2015
Wes Moore
Amun Ankhra

After a troubled childhood, Wes Moore graduated from Johns Hopkins University, served in the U.S. Army in Afghanistan, earned a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford, served as a special assistant to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, worked on Wall Street and wrote a book about a man with the same first and last name, but without Moore’s successes.

After writing that book, Moore set out to find purpose in “The Work: My Search for a Life that Matters.”

Gayle Harper

When author and photographer Gayle Harper learned that it takes 90 days for a raindrop to travel from the Mississippi River’s headwaters to the Gulf of Mexico, she knew she had a new project: Follow the path of that raindrop.

That path became a book, “Roadtrip with a Raindrop: 90 Days Along the Mississippi,” full of photos and a series of vignettes. Along the way, Harper said she found that there’s something special about life on the river.

First use of fingerprinting. First drive-up bank teller. First cocktail party. First nighttime Major League Baseball season opener.

A Look At St. Louis' Timeline

Dec 18, 2014

As St. Louis celebrates 250 years, several books have explored the city’s history. Add one more to the list, but this one tells the tales through timelines.

“St. Louis: An Illustrated Timeline” offers a tour through St. Louis’ past (and future, as the book ends in 2016) with vignettes for noteworthy years. It also has what author Carol Ferring Shepley calls a “wide-angle view” of the city.

A Look At How Vigilante Justice Shaped Missouri

Nov 18, 2014
Author Joe Johnston
Courtesy of the St. Louis County Library

From the Louisiana Purchase through the Civil War, Missouri was shaped by vigilante justice.

“The state was filled with people before there were laws and lawmen,” author and historian Joe Johnston told “St. Louis on the Air” host Don Marsh on Tuesday. Johnston’s latest book, “Necessary Evil: Settling Missouri with a Rope and a Gun,” chronicles the implications of vigilantism in the state.

Missouri was part of the 1803 Louisiana Purchase. After Louisiana became a state in 1812, the area became the Missouri Territory.  

Figuring Out What The Hell St. Louis Is Thinking

Nov 12, 2014
A typewriter for the "What the Hell is St. Louis Thinking?" project sits in the Central West End in 2013. Passers-by were encouraged to anonymously share their thoughts.
Erin Williams / St. Louis Public Radio

In 2013, Henry Goldkamp decorated St. Louis with 40 typewriters. Each of the manual typewriter stations asked passers-by to tap out their thoughts.

Goldkamp dubbed the project “What the Hell is St. Louis Thinking?” and has published a curated book of responses. The book, also called “What the Hell is St. Louis Thinking?,” will be released on Nov. 22.

So what is St. Louis thinking?

Tony Flannery
Courtesy of Call to Action

In 2012, Tony Flannery, an Irish priest and religious writer, found out the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican’s watchdog group, was displeased with some of his writings about the church.

Provided by Dorothy

Dorothy: A Publishing Project is small literary press that’s making big waves in the literary community. The press publishes only two books each fall. This year Dorothy released Nell Zink’s "The Wallcreeper" and Joanna Ruocco’s "DAN." Critical acclaim continues to grow for Dorothy. "The Wallcreeper" is reviewed in the influential New York Time’s Book Review this weekend.

A few months after the jury announced George Zimmerman was not guilty in the Florida shooting death of Trayvon Martin, NBC News legal analyst Lisa Bloom published a book examining the case, “Suspicion Nation: The Inside Story of the Trayvon Martin Injustice and Why We Continue to Repeat It.”

In “Suspicion Nation,” Bloom looks at what happened behind the scenes and why similar shootings continue to take place, including the August death of Michael Brown in Ferguson.

Exploring The Life Of A For-Hire Abolitionist

Oct 13, 2014
'Ain't No Harm to Kill the Devil' by Jeffrey Copeland
Courtesy of Jeffrey Copeland

Among abolitionists, John Fairfield was unique: He was brutal, not above a shootout; he created elaborate ruses to rescue slaves; and he charged for his work.

Fairfield was born in Virginia to a slave-owning family.

“John, as a very young man, had a very dear friend, one of the younger slaves, he grew up with,” said author Jeffrey Copeland . His book “Ain’t No Harm to Kill the Devil: The Life and Legend of John Fairfield, Abolitionist for Hire,” examines Fairfield’s life.

Authors, Readers Prepare For Lit In The Lou

Oct 3, 2014

“St. Louis is kind of underappreciated as a literary city,” St. Louis author Ann Leckie said. “There’s the long history, but there’s also plenty of writers who are here now.”

That history, including authors like Maya Angelou and Tennessee Williams, and award-winning authors like Leckie are fueling next weekend’s Lit in the Lou festival.

RA Salvatore
Amazon

RA Salvatore’s written more than 50 books.  He’s sold more than 17 million. The New York Times best-selling fantasy fiction author met fans and signed books at the Webster Groves Public Library Oct. 2. Earlier that day he answered questions about how real-world events affect his writing practice.

St. Louis Public Radio: You’ve been writing for over 30 years, produced over 50 books, and sold over 17 million copies. How have you maintained your inspiration?

Wikipedia Commons

St. Louis played a key role in the Civil War. Not only was it a significant naval base, but a riot at the edge of town led to the creation of Missouri’s militia and the effects of the war can still be felt today.

Jason Rosenbaum / St. Louis Public Radio

This story was updated following St. Louis on the Air.

Former U.S. Rep. Todd Akin is back, and he’s not sorry.

Two years after losing a contest for U.S. Senate and igniting a “war on women” debate with a comment about rape, Akin has written a book that offers behind-the-scenes details about how he, his campaign and his family coped.

In an August 2012 interview with Charles Jaco on KTVI (Channel 2), Akin was asked about abortion and rape. Akin, who is staunchly anti-abortion, said that a pregnancy from rape “is really rare.”

Twenty-Four Things To Do In St. Louis This Summer

Jul 17, 2014
Romondo Davis

Summer in the city. There’s nothing like it, and no shortage of things to see, do and experience in St. Louis. From parks to concerts and festivals, frozen custard to marionettes, farmers markets to museums, there’s an event (or 20) for everyone.

Author Amanda Doyle has written a second St. Louis guidebook. She said being an outsider affects her view of St. Louis.

“You can’t be born in a place and appreciate everything about it,” she said.

Da Capo Press

Author Martin Goldsmith is no stranger to St. Louis: Not only was he born here, but his mother was a longtime violinist with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. But it was a different St. Louis and a different family connection that recently caught his attention.

In “Alex’s Wake: A Voyage of Betrayal and Journey of Remembrance,” Goldsmith traces the journey of his grandfather, Alex Goldschmidt, and uncle, Helmut Goldschmidt, Jewish refugees who tried to escape Nazi Germany aboard the MS St. Louis. 

Sarah Crowder / courtesy photo

St. Louis author Ridley Pearson is no stranger to the New York Times Bestseller List. But in writing his books (of which there are many) he aspires to more than popularity.

“I try to always put a social issue under my novels without getting on a soap box so that when you end my novel there’s also something you want to go Google or go learn about,” said Pearson. By introducing his readers to social issues such as poaching or the illegal art trade, he hopes he inspires his readers to get involved, talk to their senators or donate money to a good cause.

Disney Publishing Worldwide

Washington, D.C. author Ron Suskind and his wife Cornelia Kennedy were devastated when 2-year-old Owen stopped talking and began walking with a drunken gait.

When, how did their son’s regression begin? “It’s like reviewing clues to a kidnapping,” Suskind writes in “Life, Animated: A Story of Sidekicks, Heroes, and Autism.”

Wm Morrow

When I saw that Tim Townsend had written a book centered on the Lutheran chaplain at the Nuremberg trials, I knew I would read it.

The Rev. Henry Gerecke ended his career in Chester, Ill. There he was assistant pastor of St. John Lutheran Church and the chaplain at the state prison and mental hospital. I graduated from the church’s grade school and relatives work at that prison.

But I have no personal memory of Gerecke. He died the year before we moved from the farm into town. And when we lived on the farm, we went another direction to church.

Courtesy Susan Grigsby

Local children’s authors, who explore topics ranging from Thomas Jefferson to tattletales, will be on hand to discuss and sign their books at two sessions this month at the St. Louis Central Library.

Mark S. Abeln

St. Louis folklorist John Oldani has published a new book on the region's folklore and traditions, this time about the Christmas holiday.

The book, Christmas in St. Louis, includes more than 200 iconic St. Louis Christmas photographs by Mark S. Abeln, as well as historic photos from the archives of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Among the book's highlights are:

(Courtesy Amy Tan)

Recorded Saturday, November 16 at the St. Louis County Library.

Amy Tan, author of The Joy Luck Club and other novels centered on the mother-daughter relationship, visited St. Louis as part of a tour for her new book, The Valley of Amazement.

In front of an audience of several hundred fans, she spoke with St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh about the novel, her writing, her life, and her belief in ghosts.

David Laskin
Tom Cobb

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - In 2010, David Laskin and his daughter Emily traveled to Israel to start a worldwide journey of discovery and remembrance. He had not met his Israeli cousins before; and as soon as he sat down with them, he had concerns that his mission – tracing three branches of his family through decades of history – was never going to work.

He worried, as he writes in the epilogue to his book “The Family,” “that the Israelis would find me intrusive, insensitive, presumptuous.”

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