Scott LeDoux's face read like a roadmap of boxing's last golden era--eye thumbed by Larry Holmes, brow gashed by Mike Tyson, ears stung by none other than Muhammad Ali. "George Foreman hit me so hard," LeDoux said, "my ancestors in France felt it." The only man to step into the ring with eleven heavyweight champions, LeDoux also fought through two of boxing's greatest scandals, recurring illness, and childhood trauma that haunted him for decades. This is his story, the life and times of a Minnesota Rocky making the most of the hard knocks that bruise the American Dream, told in full for the first time by award-winning journalist Paul Levy.
He was never a world champion, but Scott LeDoux was always the people's champ. Doing his best to turn a small-town miner's son into boxing's next great white hope, Don King said of Scott LeDoux: "He eats rusty nails for breakfast, punches holes in concrete with either hand, bobs and weaves like a giant Rocky Marciano." He was a big, good-natured kid, with a ready wit and the will to take all comers along on a ride he himself found hard to believe.
From the mining community of Crosby, Minnesota, to the dingy, mildew-scented dressing rooms in minor-league towns like Sioux Falls and Billings, to the stage of Madison Square Garden, Levy gives us a real sense of what it was like to spar with fighters such as Tyson and Ali. The buried secrets of childhood abuse and the harrowing sadness of death and disease in his family make LeDoux's triumphs and defeats all the more poignant and, in Levy's irresistible narrative, unforgettable.
There's Santa Claus, Shakespeare, Mickey Mouse, the Bible, and then there's Star Wars. Nothing quite compares to sitting down with a young child and hearing the sound of John Williams's score as those beloved golden letters fill the screen. In this fun, erudite, and often moving book, Cass R. Sunstein explores the lessons of Star Wars as they relate to childhood, fathers, the Dark Side, rebellion, and redemption. As it turns out, Star Wars also has a lot to teach us about constitutional law, economics, and political uprisings. In rich detail, Sunstein tells the story of the films' wildly unanticipated success and explores why some things succeed while others fail. Ultimately, Sunstein argues, Star Wars is about freedom of choice and our never-ending ability to make the right decision when the chips are down.
Written with buoyant prose and considerable heart, The World According to Star Wars shines a bright new light on the most beloved story of our time.
The hugely illuminating story of how a popular breed of dog became the most demonized and supposedly the most dangerous of dogs--and what role humans have played in the transformation. When Bronwen Dickey brought her new dog home, she saw no traces of the infamous viciousness in her affectionate, timid pit bull. Which made her wonder: How had the breed--beloved by Teddy Roosevelt, Helen Keller, and Hollywood's "Little Rascals"--come to be known as a brutal fighter? Her search for answers takes her from nineteenth-century New York City dogfighting pits--the cruelty of which drew the attention of the recently formed ASPCA--to early twentieth‑century movie sets, where pit bulls cavorted with Fatty Arbuckle and Buster Keaton; from the battlefields of Gettysburg and the Marne, where pit bulls earned presidential recognition, to desolate urban neighborhoods where the dogs were loved, prized--and sometimes brutalized. Whether through love or fear, hatred or devotion, humans are bound to the history of the pit bull. With unfailing thoughtfulness, compassion, and a firm grasp of scientific fact, Dickey offers us a clear-eyed portrait of this extraordinary breed, and an insightful view of Americans' relationship with their dogs.
The True Tails on Baker and Taylor: The Library Cats Who Left Their Pawprints on a Small Town... and the World
"Not since George Bailey in It's a Wonderful Life has someone so lifted the spirits of an entire community. That the 'someone' in this case is, in fact, two library cats makes this true tale of the love of literature combined with a fondness for nose licking all the more magical.
It all started with mice in the library. Assistant librarian Jan Louch and a coworker decided that what the library needed was a cat. Or, even better, two cats. Soon, they found a pair of Scottish Folds who were perfect for the job. Jan named them Baker and Taylor, and they took up residence in the library. But these cats were much more than mousers. Visitors to the library fell in love with Baker and Taylor and their antics just as Jan had. And then, after Jan let the cats be photographed for a poster, they became feline celebrities. Children from across the country wrote them letters, fans traveled from far and wide to meet them, and they became the most famous library cats in the world. In The True Tails of Baker and Taylor, Jan Louch looks back and tells the remarkable story of these two marvelous cats and the people -- readers, librarians, and cat lovers of all ages -- who came together around them.
This powerful, moving story--which has already touched more than seven million through a viral video created by the Whittington family--is a mother's first-hand account of her emotional choice to embrace her transgender child. When Hillary and Jeff Whittington posted a YouTube video chronicling their five-year-old son Ryland's transition from girl to boy, they didn't expect it to be greeted with such fervor. Beautiful and moving, the video documenting Hillary's and Jeff's love for their child instantly went viral and has been seen by more than seven million viewers since its posting in May 2014. Now for the first time, they tell their story in full, offering an emotional and moving account of their journey alongside their exceptional child. After they discovered their daughter Ryland was deaf at age one and needed cochlear implants, the Whittingtons spent nearly four years successfully teaching Ryland to speak. But once Ryland gained the power of speech, it was time for them to listen as Ryland insisted, "I am a boy!" And listen they did. After learning that forty-one percent of people who identify as transgender attempt to take their own lives, Hillary and her husband Jeff made it their mission to support their child--no matter what. From the earliest stages of deciphering Ryland through clothing choices to examining the difficult conversations that have marked every stage of Ryland's transition, Hillary Whittington shares her experiences as a mother through it all, demonstrating both the resistance and support that their family has encountered as they try to erase the stigma surrounding the word "transgender." In telling her family's story, she hopes she can assist the world in accepting that even children as young as five, can have profound and impactful things to say and share. What emerges is a powerful story of unconditional love, accepting others for who they are, and doing what's right, regardless of whether those around you understand it.
A World War II Story of Espionage, Adventure, and Betrayal
The riveting biography of Betty Pack, the dazzling American debutante who became an Allied spy during WWII and was hailed by OSS chief General "Wild Bill" Donovan as "the greatest unsung heroine of the war."
Betty Pack was charming, beautiful, and intelligent--and she knew it. As an agent for Britain's MI-6 and then America's OSS during World War II, these qualities proved crucial to her success. This is the remarkable story of this "Mata Hari from Minnesota" (Time) and the passions that ruled her tempestuous life--a life filled with dangerous liaisons and death-defying missions vital to the Allied victory. For decades, much of Betty's career working for MI-6 and the OSS remained classified. Through access to recently unclassified files, Howard Blum discovers the truth about the attractive blond, codenamed "Cynthia," who seduced diplomats and military attachés across the globe in exchange for ciphers and secrets; cracked embassy safes to steal codes; and obtained the Polish notebooks that proved key to Alan Turing's success with Operation Ultra. Beneath Betty's cool, professional determination, Blum reveals a troubled woman conflicted by the very traits that made her successful: her lack of deep emotional connections and her readiness to risk everything. The Last Goodnight is a mesmerizing, provocative, and moving portrait of an exceptional heroine whose undaunted courage helped to save the world.
A pajama party at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport inadvertently helped launch R.T. Rybak's political career (imagine a rumba line one hundred protesters long chanting, "We deserve to sleep, hey!"), but his earliest lessons in leadership occurred during his childhood. Growing up in a middle-class neighborhood, attending private school with students who had much more than he did, spending evenings at his family's store in an area where people lived with much less, he witnessed firsthand the opportunity and injustice of the city he called home. In a memoir that is at once a political coming-of-age story and a behind-the-scenes look at the running of a great city, the three-term mayor takes readers into the highs and lows and the daily drama of a life inextricably linked with Minneapolis over the past fifty years. With refreshing candor and insight, Rybak describes his path through journalism, marketing, and community activism that led to his unlikely (to him, at least) primary election--on September 11, 2001. His personal account of the challenges and crises confronting the city over twelve years, including the tragic collapse of the I-35W bridge, the rising scourge of youth violence, and the bruising fight over a ban on gay marriage (with Rybak himself conducting the first such ceremony at City Hall on August 1, 2013), is also an illuminating, often funny depiction of learning the workings of the job, frequently on the fly, while trying to keep up with his most important constituency, his family. As bracing as the "fresh air" campaign that swept him into office, Rybak's memoir is that rare document from a politician: one more concerned with the people he served and the issues of his time than with burnishing his own credentials. As such, it reflects what leadership truly looks like.