New releases, publisher mergers and obscenity lawsuits

Good evening. The week has slipped away from me again, so I apologize for the lack of a new book review. My weekly roundup of new non-fiction books is below.

In book news, the Department of Justice’s offer to block the merger of Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster, two of the five largest publishing houses, is in court this week. The CEOs of other major publishers, MacMillan and Hachette, testified in opposition, with the chairman of HarperCollins yet to come. Other government witnesses include literary agent Christy Fletcher and economist Nicholas Hill. Hill testified that

a merger of PRH with S&S would give the merged company such a high market share in the market for top-selling authors that, theoretically, it would lower the advances paid to those authors.

Hill’s market share analysis for best anticipated sales found that the combined share of PRH and S&S would be around 49%, with PRH at 37% and S&S at 12%, and well above Harper’s. at 22%. (Currently, in Hill’s proposed best-selling submarket, the Big Five companies acquire about 90% of the titles, while that number drops to 55% for all other books.) He also noted that, despite the defense’s insistence that self-publishing represented a major competitor, the chances that authors would leave a combined HRP-S&S to self-publish if the merger were to go through and if the advancements collapse are thin.

In Virginia, a trial date of August 30 has been set for an obscenity trial brought in by GOP State Assemblyman Tim Anderson and congressional candidate Tommy Altman (who lost his primary candidacy in June. They’re looking to get a few books pulled from shelves statewide to be ” obscene material for unrestricted viewing by minors.” Books? Gender Queeran acclaimed graphic novel/memoir by Maia Kobabe about being non-binary and asexual, and the hugely popular bestseller A court of mist and fury, by Sarah Maas. Two very different books, and the lawsuit is clearly a trial balloon to get more books banned for obscenity. And note that it’s not just about having books pulled from school libraries. No, they also want the books banned from bookstores. That’s why Barnes and Noble filed briefs in the case.


  • The Destructionists: Twenty-Five Years of the Collapse of the Republican Party, by Dana Milbank. A scathing twenty-five year history of Republican attempts to cling to political power by any means necessary, by yet another embarrassed Republican and popular Washington Post political columnist.
  • The Fifth Act: The End of America in Afghanistan, by Elliot Ackerman. “The story of the US invasion and occupation of Afghanistan is only beginning to be written, and it will likely be decades before a fuller picture emerges. But one of the first and most important voices in this story will be that of writer and veteran Elliott Ackerman, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. The history of any war will always be an ongoing gathering of subjectivities – as such, Ackerman brings his own deeply personal perspective as a Marine (and later as a CIA paramilitary officer) who returns to Afghanistan at the eve of his return to the Taliban to help with large-scale impromptu evacuations. Ackerman then looks back on 20 years of American misadventure in the Middle East and the profound impact it had on two decades of his life. —literary center
  • Forever Faithful: A Story of the War in Afghanistan, the Fall of Kabul, and the Unbreakable Bond Between a Marine and an Interpreter, by Thomas Schueman and Zainullah Zaki. A dramatic and sincere double memoir of the war in Afghanistan told by two men from opposite worlds. Always Faithful intertwines the stories of Navy Major Tom Schueman and his Afghan friend and interpreter, Zainullah “Zak” Zaki, as they describe their parallel lives, converging paths and unbreakable bond in the face of overwhelming danger, culminating with Zak and his family. harrowing escape from Kabul.
  • All-American Dogs: A History of Presidential Pets of All Eras, by Andrew Hager. Takes readers through the gripping story of the White House’s four-legged friends, the impact they had on their chief owner, and ultimately American history. From the slaying of President Lincoln’s dog after Lincoln’s death to President Hoover’s Belgian Shepherd, King Tut, who helped President Hoover win the election after appearing in a campaign photo, these furry members of the first family have often had a lasting impact on the administrations that kept them. No Trump in this book.
  • Return to Uluru: The Hidden Story of a Murder in Outback Australia, by Mark McKenna. Explores the cold case that strikes at the heart of Australia’s white supremacy – the death of an Aboriginal man in 1934; the iconic life of a white “outback” police officer; and the holiest and most mysterious monument on the continent.
  • Path Lit by Lightning: The Life of Jim Thorpe, by David Maranis. “A sensitive and irresistible life of the great, abused [Native American] athlete Jim Thorpe. . . . Racism was a powerful element in Thorpe’s life, and Maraniss explores this subject with insight and nuance, just as he did in his biography of Roberto Clemente. . . . A tale which, although well known in its outline, Maraniss enriches with his considerable skills as a writer and researcher.”— Kirkus Reviews (star rating)
  • Two more books in the burgeoning subgenre of animal intelligence and behavior. If Nietzsche was a narwhal: what animal intelligence reveals about human stupidity, by Justin Gregg, turns everything we thought we knew about human intelligence on its head and asks the question: would humans be better off as narwhals? Or another less intelligent species? There’s a good argument to be made that humans might be a less successful animal species precisely because of our amazing and complex intelligence. And Dancing Cockatoos and the Dead Man’s Test: How Behavior Changes and Why It Matters, by Marlene Zuk: “This book is a joyful, provocative and highly entertaining exploration of the roots of our behavior. Marlene Zuk dispels the darkness and misconceptions about how our sex roles, language, intelligence and even mental illness arose, providing a fresh and invigorating view of animal behavior informed by her insightful knowledge and warm humor. —Jennifer Ackerman, New York Times bestselling author of The genius of the birds
  • Bad Sex: Truth, Pleasure, and the Unfinished Revolution, by Nona Willis Aronowitz. Of teen vogue Sex and love columnist Nona Willis Aronowitz, daughter of the late feminist writer Ellen Willis, a blend of memoir, social history and cultural critique that explores the meaning of desire and sexual freedom today.
  • Kiki Man Ray: Art, Love and Rivalry in 1920s Paris, by Marc Braude. A dazzling portrait of Paris’ forgotten artist and cabaret star, whose incandescent life asks us to see modern art history from new angles. Kiki and Man Ray met in 1921 during a chance encounter at a cafe. What followed was an explosive decade-long connection, both professional and romantic, during which the couple grew and experimented as artists, competed for fame and created many shocking images that cemented Man Ray’s reputation as one of the great artists of modernity. time. The works they produced together, including surrealist icons Le Violon d’Ingres and Noire et blanche, are now setting auction records.

    Tracing their volatile relationship, award-winning historian Mark Braude sheds light for the first time on Kiki’s defining influence not only on the art of Man Ray, but on the culture of 1920s Paris and beyond. As provocative and magnetically irresistible as Kiki herself, Kiki Man Ray is the story of an exceptional life that will challenge ideas about artists and muses – and the lines that separate them.

  • Shy: The alarmingly outspoken memoir of Mary Rodgers. The memoir of Mary Rodgers, writer, composer, Broadway royalty and “a woman who tried everything.” Both an eyewitness account of the golden age of American musical theater and the story of a woman struggling for a meaningful life, Shy is above all a chance to sit at the feet of the kind of woman they no longer do – and never did. They are made.
  • A Song for Everyone: The Story of Creedence Clearwater Revival, by John Lingan. The definitive biography of Creedence Clearwater Revival, exploring the band’s legendary rise and how their music embodied the cultural landscape of the late 60s and early 70s.

All book links in this journal are to my online bookstore The literate lizard. If you already have a favorite independent bookstore, keep supporting it. If you are able to throw me some business, that would be appreciated. Use promo code DAILYKOS for 15% off your order, as a thank you for your support (a handful of ever-evolving new releases are already 15% off each week). We also collaborate with Hummingbird Media for eBooks and for audiobooks. The ebook app is admittedly not as robust as some, but it gets the job done. is similar to Amazon’s Audible, with audiobooks a la carte or a $14.99 monthly subscription that includes the audiobook of your choice and 20% off subsequent purchases during the month.