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Pete Croatto's Picks!

American Pastoral: American Trilogy (1)

American Pastoral: American Trilogy (1)

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Seymour "Swede" Levov - a legendary high school athlete, a devoted family man, a hard worker, the prosperous inheritor of his father's Newark glove factory - comes of age in thriving, triumphant postwar America. But everything he loves is lost when the country begins to run amok in the turbulent 1960s. Not even the most private, well-intentioned citizens, it seems, gets to sidestep the sweep of history. "American Pastoral" is the story of a fortunate American's rise and fall - of a strong, confident master of social equilibrium overwhelmed by the forces of social disorder. For the Swede is not allowed to stay forever blissful inside the beloved hundred-and-seventy-year-old stone farmhouse, in rural Old Rimrock, where he lives with his pretty wife - the college sweetheart who was Miss New Jersey of 1949 - and the lively, precocious daughter who is the apple of his eye. The apple of his eye, that is, until she grows up to be a revolutionary terrorist bent on destroying her father's paradise. "American Pastoral" presents a vivid portrait of how the innocence of Swede Levov is swept away by the times - of how everything industriously created by his family in America over three generations is left in a shambles by the explosion of a bomb in his own bucolic backyard.
Beautiful Ruins

Beautiful Ruins

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The #1 New York Times bestseller, now available in paperback--Jess Walter's "absolute masterpiece" (Richard Russo, Pulitzer Prize-winning author): the story of an almost-love affair that begins on the Italian coast in 1962 and resurfaces fifty years later in contemporary Hollywood.

The acclaimed, award-winning author of the national bestseller The Financial Lives of the Poets returns with his funniest, most romantic, and most purely enjoyable novel yet. Hailed by critics and loved by readers of literary and historical fiction, Beautiful Ruins is the story of an almost-love affair that begins on the Italian coast in 1962...and is rekindled in Hollywood fifty years later.

Can't Stop Won't Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation

Can't Stop Won't Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation

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Can't Stop Won't Stop is a powerful cultural and social history of the end of the American century, and a provocative look into the new world that the hip-hop generation created.

Forged in the fires of the Bronx and Kingston, Jamaica, hip-hop became the Esperanto of youth rebellion and a generation-defining movement. In a post-civil rights era defined by deindustrialization and globalization, hip-hop crystallized a multiracial, polycultural generation's worldview, and transformed American politics and culture. But that epic story has never been told with this kind of breadth, insight, and style.

Based on original interviews with DJs, b-boys, rappers, graffiti writers, activists, and gang members, with unforgettable portraits of many of hip-hop's forebears, founders, and mavericks, including DJ Kool Herc, Afrika Bambaataa, Chuck D, and Ice Cube, Can't Stop Won't Stop chronicles the events, the ideas, the music, and the art that marked the hip-hop generation's rise from the ashes of the 60's into the new millennium.

Five Came Back: A Story of Hollywood and the Second World War

Five Came Back: A Story of Hollywood and the Second World War

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Now a Netflix original documentary series, also written by Mark Harris: the extraordinary wartime experience of five of Hollywood's most important directors, all of whom put their stamp on World War II and were changed by it forever

Here is the remarkable, untold story of how five major Hollywood directors--John Ford, George Stevens, John Huston, William Wyler, and Frank Capra--changed World War II, and how, in turn, the war changed them. In a move unheard of at the time, the U.S. government farmed out its war propaganda effort to Hollywood, allowing these directors the freedom to film in combat zones as never before. They were on the scene at almost every major moment of America's war, shaping the public's collective consciousness of what we've now come to call the good fight. The product of five years of scrupulous archival research, Five Came Back provides a revelatory new understanding of Hollywood's role in the war through the life and work of these five men who chose to go, and who came back.

"Five Came Back

. . . is one of the great works of film history of the decade." --Slate

"A tough-minded, information-packed and irresistibly readable work of movie-minded cultural criticism. Like the best World War II films, it highlights marquee names in a familiar plot to explore some serious issues: the human cost of military service, the hypnotic power of cinema and the tension between artistic integrity and the exigencies of war." --The New York Times

From Hang Time to Prime Time: Business, Entertainment, and the Birth of the Modern-Day NBA

From Hang Time to Prime Time: Business, Entertainment, and the Birth of the Modern-Day NBA

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Perfect for fans of Moneyball and The Book of Basketball, this vivid, thoroughly entertaining, and well-researched book explores the NBA's surge in popularity in the 1970s and 1980s and its transformation into a global cultural institution.

Far beyond simply being a sports league, the NBA has become an entertainment and pop culture juggernaut. From all kinds of team logo merchandise to officially branded video games and players crossing over into reality television, film, fashion lines, and more, there is an inseparable line between sports and entertainment. But only four decades ago, this would have been unthinkable.

Featuring writing that leaps off the page with energy and wit, journalist and basketball fan Pete Croatto takes us behind the scenes to the meetings that lead to the monumental American Basketball Association-National Basketball Association merger in 1976, revolutionizing the NBA's image. He pays homage to legendary talents including Julius "Dr. J" Erving, Magic Johnson, and Michael Jordan and reveals how two polar-opposite rookies, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, led game attendance to skyrocket and racial lines to dissolve. Croatto also dives into CBS's personality-driven coverage of key players, as well as other cable television efforts, which launched NBA players into unprecedented celebrity status.

Essential reading whether you're a casual or longtime fan, From Hang Time to Prime Time is an enthralling and entertaining celebration of basketball history.

Heritage: Black Athletes, a Divided America, and the Politics of Patriotism

Heritage: Black Athletes, a Divided America, and the Politics of Patriotism

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Following in the footsteps of Robeson, Ali, Robinson and others, today's Black athletes re-engage with social issues and the meaning of American patriotism

Named a best book of 2018 by Library Journal

It used to be that politics and sports were as separate from one another as church and state. The ballfield was an escape from the world's worst problems, top athletes were treated like heroes, and cheering for the home team was as easy and innocent as hot dogs and beer. "No news on the sports page" was a governing principle in newsrooms.

That was then.

Today, sports arenas have been transformed into staging grounds for American patriotism and the hero worship of law enforcement. Teams wear camouflage jerseys to honor those who serve; police officers throw out first pitches; soldiers surprise their families with homecomings at halftime. Sports and politics are decidedly entwined.

But as journalist Howard Bryant reveals, this has always been more complicated for black athletes, who from the start, were committing a political act simply by being on the field. In fact, among all black employees in twentieth-century America, perhaps no other group had more outsized influence and power than ballplayers. The immense social responsibilities that came with the role is part of the black athletic heritage. It is a heritage built by the influence of the superstardom and radical politics of Paul Robeson, Jackie Robinson, Muhammad Ali, Tommie Smith, and John Carlos through the 1960s; undermined by apolitical, corporate-friendly "transcenders of race," O. J. Simpson, Michael Jordan, and Tiger Woods in the following decades; and reclaimed today by the likes of LeBron James, Colin Kaepernick, and Carmelo Anthony.

The Heritage is the story of the rise, fall, and fervent return of the athlete-activist. Through deep research and interviews with some of sports' best-known stars--including Kaepernick, David Ortiz, Charles Barkley, and Chris Webber--as well as members of law enforcement and the military, Bryant details the collision of post-9/11 sports in America and the politically engaged post-Ferguson black athlete.

I USED TO BE CHARMING: THE RES

I USED TO BE CHARMING: THE RES

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Previously uncollected nonfiction pieces by Hollywood's ultimate It Girl about everything from fashion to tango to Jim Morrison and Nicholas Cage.

With Eve's Hollywood Eve Babitz lit up the scene in 1974. The books that followed, among them Slow Days, Fast Company and Sex and Rage, have seduced generations of readers with their unfailing wit and impossible glamour. What is less well known is that Babitz was a working journalist for the better part of three decades, writing for the likes of Rolling Stone, Vogue, and Esquire, as well as for off-the-beaten-path periodicals like Wet: The Magazine of Gourmet Bathing and Francis Ford Coppola's short-lived City. Whether profiling Hollywood darlings, getting to the bottom of health crazes like yoga and acupuncture, remembering friends and lovers from her days hobnobbing with rock stars at the Troubadour and art stars at the Ferus Gallery, or writing about her beloved, misunderstood hometown, Los Angeles, Babitz approaches every assignment with an energy and verve that is all her own.

I Used to Be Charming gathers nearly fifty pieces written between 1975 and 1997, including the full text of Babitz's wry book-length investigation into the pioneering lifestyle brand Fiorucci. The title essay, published here for the first time, recounts the accident that came close to killing her in 1996; it reveals an uncharacteristically vulnerable yet never less than utterly charming Babitz.

Notes of a Native Son

Notes of a Native Son

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#26 on The Guardian's list of 100 best nonfiction books of all time, the essays explore what it means to be Black in America

In an age of Black Lives Matter, James Baldwin's essays on life in Harlem, the protest novel, movies, and African Americans abroad are as powerful today as when they were first written. With films like I Am Not Your Negro and the forthcoming If Beale Street Could Talk bringing renewed interest to Baldwin's life and work, Notes of a Native Son serves as a valuable introduction.

Written during the 1940s and early 1950s, when Baldwin was only in his twenties, the essays collected in Notes of a Native Son capture a view of black life and black thought at the dawn of the civil rights movement and as the movement slowly gained strength through the words of one of the most captivating essayists and foremost intellectuals of that era. Writing as an artist, activist, and social critic, Baldwin probes the complex condition of being black in America. With a keen eye, he examines everything from the significance of the protest novel to the motives and circumstances of the many black expatriates of the time, from his home in "The Harlem Ghetto" to a sobering "Journey to Atlanta."

Notes of a Native Son inaugurated Baldwin as one of the leading interpreters of the dramatic social changes erupting in the United States in the twentieth century, and many of his observations have proven almost prophetic. His criticism on topics such as the paternalism of white progressives or on his own friend Richard Wright's work is pointed and unabashed. He was also one of the few writing on race at the time who addressed the issue with a powerful mixture of outrage at the gross physical and political violence against black citizens and measured understanding of their oppressors, which helped awaken a white audience to the injustices under their noses. Naturally, this combination of brazen criticism and unconventional empathy for white readers won Baldwin as much condemnation as praise.

Notes is the book that established Baldwin's voice as a social critic, and it remains one of his most admired works. The essays collected here create a cohesive sketch of black America and reveal an intimate portrait of Baldwin's own search for identity as an artist, as a black man, and as an American.

Pee Wees: Confessions of a Hockey Parent

Pee Wees: Confessions of a Hockey Parent

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A New York Times bestselling author takes a rollicking deep dive into the ultra-competitive world of youth hockey

Rich Cohen, the New York Times-bestselling author of The Chicago Cubs: Story of a Curse and Monsters: The 1985 Chicago Bears and the Wild Heart of Football, turns his attention to matters closer to home: his son's elite Pee Wee hockey team and himself, a former player and a devoted hockey parent.

In Pee Wees: Confessions of a Hockey Parent, Cohen takes us through a season of hard-fought competition in Fairfield County, Connecticut, an affluent suburb of New York City. Part memoir and part exploration of youth sports and the exploding popularity of American hockey, Pee Wees follows the ups and downs of the Ridgefield Bears, the twelve-year-old boys and girls on the team, and the parents watching, cheering, conniving, and cursing in the stands. It is a book about the love of the game, the love of parents for their children, and the triumphs and struggles of both.