The Hippest Trip in America: Soul Train and the Evolution of Culture and Style (William Morrow $27.99) by Nelson George covers what he hopes to be an interactive experience where readers research the characters they begin to learn about from television. George covers the breadth of the show: the dancers, the host, the media, and Soul Train’s place in the social view of African-Americans. Soul Train is so significant to that view that George’s is the third book devoted to the show released in the past 12 months. (Others include Questlove’s Soul Train: The Music, Dance and Style of a Generation, and Love, Peace, and Soul: Behind the Scenes of America’s Favorite Dance Show, Soul Train by Ericka Blount Danois.) The program is part of the range of positive ways we saw ourselves on television, the way we presented ourselves to the world. Get it.
Letter to an Incarcerated Brother (Gotham $16) by Hill Harper is out in paperback. In his fifth and final book, he gives brothers on lockdown a framework of hope and responsibility to hold them through their release, and guidance to create a self-generated plan for existence back into the free world.
Not for Everyday Use (Akashic $24.95/19.95) by Elizabeth Nunez is a powerful memoir of “every immigrant’s fear” (as she puts it) arcing the four days encompassing the notification of her mother’s passing to the burial. Although Nunez is best known for her fiction, this non-fiction narrative pulls the curtain back upon the Caribbean woman known as writer, mother, sister and wife. Death causes one to reevaluate life, right? Definitely peruse how this writer’s narrative plays out.
The Civil War: The Final Year Told by Those Who Lived It (Library of Congress $40) is the final chapter in a four-part series. The scene is set in a nation divided and weary, at war with itself. So what’s life like through the defeat of the South to the beginnings of Reconstruction, from various angles on both sides? This book covers March 1864 to June 1865, and includes letters from the famous, including Fredrick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, Walt Whitman, Harriet Jacobs and Ulysses S. Grant. Time to learn from the past to understand the present and plan the future.
Jimmy’s Blues and Other Poems (Beacon $16) by James Baldwin. Before he wrote all the celebrated essays, novels and plays, he was a poet. This reissue contains all of the original Jimmy’s Blues and selections from a separate collection, Gypsy. Together you get to see the man in possibly his most naked literary state, playing with language in a way most writers can’t.
Why Soccer Matters (Celebra $26.95) by Pélé. This man has met Presidents Clinton, Reagan, Carter and Nixon. He’s won the World Cup three times. His name is almost synonymous with soccer (fútbol), and this is his legacy as he wishes it to be known. Be you a long-time fan of the game or a novice, his story will bring you into something larger than yourself through sports.