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- American writer
Pearl Harbor Day is Dec. 7, the 80th anniversary of Japan’s surprise attack on the U.S. base in Hawaii. For certain loved ones of the Americans who served, the trauma of World War II was sharply worse: Brothers were allowed to serve together, and died together.
Aboard the moored battleship Arizona were 38 sets of brothers. More than three-fourths of those men were killed. Historian Walter R. Borneman — author of “The Admirals” and “MacArthur at War” — writes about the brothers and their loved ones in “Brothers Down: Pearl Harbor and the Fate of the Many Brothers Aboard the USS Arizona.” (Little, Brown, 2019.)
On Dec. 7, he’ll discuss it in a virtual talk; a Q&A follows. (7 p.m. Free, but registration is required: tinyurl.com/Arizona38. Sponsors: MacArthur Memorial and Hampton Roads Naval Museum.)
The situation in 1941 was already wrenching, unimaginable for many today. Other things haven’t changed. Enlisting out of sheer patriotism or a desire to see the world? In an author’s note Borneman nods to these motives but says many on the Arizona who’d recently joined the Navy and Marine Corps “suddenly found themselves on the front lines ... out of economic necessity”:
“Most came from the poverty of the Great Depression. Many were rural farm boys from large families whose absence around the family table meant one less mouth to feed. The five or ten dollars that many sent home monthly out of their pay of thirty-six dollars helped to feed younger siblings.” (tinyurl.com/ArizNote)
Mark Esper sues: The former defense secretary says the Defense Department is using pre-publication review to block important details and insights in his coming memoir. Esper, fired by then-President Trump via tweet, is the highest ranking member of that administration to fight such restrictions. (Wall Street Journal)
Alice Sebold publicly apologized to the man exonerated in the 1981 rape at the core of her memoir “Lucky.” Anthony Broadwater, 61, served 16 years in prison. Simon & Schuster said it ceased distribution of “Lucky” and was working with Sebold on how it might be revised; the movie was canceled. (AP, Variety)
The year’s best-of lists:
S.A. (Shawn) Cosby of Gloucester made the Shelf Awareness fiction Top 10 for “Razorblade Tears,” after nailing 11th in Amazon’s top titles.
A “Best of the Best” aggregated list will come from Publishers Weekly. Meantime, one of the most watched is that of the New York Times Book Review. Its Top 10:
Fiction: “How Beautiful We Were,” Imbolo Mbue; “Intimacies,” Katie Kitamura; “The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois,” Honoree Fanonne Jeffers; “No One Is Talking About This,” Patricia Lockwood; “When We Cease to Understand the World,” Benjamin Labatut (translator Adrian Nathan West).
Nonfiction: “The Copenhagen Trilogy,” Tove Ditlevsen (translators Tiina Nunnally, Michael Favala Goldman); “How The Word Is Passed: A Reckoning With the History of Slavery Across America,” Clint Smith; “Invisible Child: Poverty, Survival and Hope in an American City,” Andrea Elliott; ”On Juneteenth,” Annette Gordon-Reed; “Red Comet: The Short Life and Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath,” Heather Clark.
New and recent
Patricia Cornwell, “Autopsy.” Kay Scarpetta returns to Virginia, working a woman’s murder and a fatal catastrophe in a top-secret space lab. The Scarpetta series relaunch: Book 25. (William Morrow, 416 pp.)
Also: Jodi Picoult, “Wish You Were Here” ... David Cay Johnston, “The Big Cheat: How Donald Trump Fleeced America and Enriched Himself and His Family.”
— Erica Smith, firstname.lastname@example.org