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Biography & Autobiography

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  1. 4.9 hrs • 1/17/2017 • Unabridged

    A beautiful, heartrending literary memoir about the tragic death of the author’s beloved older sister and a tribute to their bond. When Sheila Kohler was thirty-seven, she received the heart-stopping news that her sister Maxine, only two years older, was killed when her husband drove them off a deserted road in Johannesburg. Stunned by the news, she immediately flew back to the country where she was born, determined to find answers and forced to reckon with his history of violence and the lingering effects of their most unusual childhood—one marked by death and the misguided love of their mother. In her signature spare and incisive prose, Sheila Kohler recounts the lives she and her sister led. Flashing back to their storybook childhood at the family estate, Crossways, Kohler tells of the death of her father when she and Maxine were girls, which led to the family abandoning their house and the girls being raised by their mother, at turns distant and suffocating. We follow them to the cloistered Anglican boarding school where they first learn of separation and later their studies in Rome and Paris where they plan grand lives for themselves—lives that are interrupted when both marry young and discover they have made poor choices. Kohler evokes the bond between sisters and shows how that bond changes but never breaks, even after death.

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    Once We Were Sisters by Sheila Kohler

    Once We Were Sisters

    4.9 hrs • 1/17/17 • Unabridged
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  2. 8.9 hrs • 1/17/2017 • Unabridged

    Throughout history, humankind’s biggest killers have been infectious diseases: the Black Death, the Spanish Flu, and AIDS alone account for over one hundred million deaths. We ignore this reality most of the time, but when a new threat—Ebola, SARS, Zika—seems imminent, we send our best and bravest doctors to contain it. People like Dr. Ali S. Khan. In his long career as a public health first responder-protected by a thin mask from infected patients, napping under nets to keep out scorpions, making life-and-death decisions on limited, suspect information—Khan has found that rogue microbes will always be a problem, but outbreaks are often caused by people. We make mistakes, politicize emergencies, and, too often, fail to imagine the consequences of our actions. The Next Pandemic is a firsthand account of disasters like anthrax, bird flu, and others—and how we could do more to prevent their return. It is both a gripping story of our brushes with fate and an urgent lesson on how we can keep ourselves safe from the inevitable next pandemic.

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    The Next Pandemic

    8.9 hrs • 1/17/17 • Unabridged
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  3. 3.4 hrs • 1/17/2017

    In 1887, Nellie Bly had herself committed to the notorious Blackwell’s Island insane asylum in New York City with the goal of discovering what life was like for its patients. While there, Bly experienced firsthand the shocking abuse and neglect of its inmates, from inedible food to horrifyingly unsanitary conditions. Ten Days in a Mad-House is Bly’s exposé of the asylum. Written for Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World, Bly’s account chronicles her 10 days at Blackwell’s Island and, upon its publication, drew public attention to the abuse of the institutionalized and led to a grand jury investigation of the facility. This series of articles established Bly as a pioneering female journalist and remains a classic of investigative reporting.

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    Ten Days in a Mad-House

    3.4 hrs • 1/17/17
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  4. 15.0 hrs • 1/17/2017 • Unabridged

    Fashioned from the same experiences that would inspire the masterpiece Huckleberry Finn, Life on the Mississippi is Mark Twain’s most brilliant and most personal nonfiction work. It is at once an affectionate evocation of the vital river life in the steamboat era and a melancholy reminiscence of its passing after the Civil War, a priceless collection of humorous anecdotes and folktales, and a unique glimpse into Twain’s life before he began to write. Written in a prose style that has been hailed as among the greatest in English literature, Life on the Mississippi established Twain as not only the most popular humorist of his time but also America’s most profound chronicler of the human comedy.

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    Life on the Mississippi

    15.0 hrs • 1/17/17 • Unabridged
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  5. 7.8 hrs • 1/17/2017 • Recorded Seminar

    Professor of English at Indiana State University and the author of the literary biography Mark Twain: Man in White, Michael Shelden is the perfect candidate to lead this series of lectures on one of the most important - and most influential - of all American authors. From Twain’s early history through his landmark achievements and the defining moments of his extraordinary life, Shelden imparts a learned understanding of both the man and his astounding body of work.

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    The Life and Times of Mark Twain

    7.8 hrs • 1/17/17 • Recorded Seminar
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  6. 7.0 hrs • 1/17/2017 • Unabridged

    Freelance writer Bryan Christy’s The Lizard King “is a wild, woolly, finny, feathery and scaly account of animal smuggling on a grand scale” (New York Times). For one U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agent, stopping the dealings of a notorious snake trader became a personal crusade.

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    The Lizard King

    7.0 hrs • 1/17/17 • Unabridged
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  7. 11.8 hrs • 1/17/2017 • Unabridged

    This is the riveting account of one of the first Americans to spy for Joseph Stalin. A brilliant Columbia University graduate, Isaiah Oggins went to Berlin to establish a safe house and spy for his country-but he turned coat. Working for the Soviets, he was nevertheless poisoned in 1947 on Stalin’s orders. Classified for decades, Oggins’ story is a cloak-and-dagger tale to rival the best novels.

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    The Lost Spy

    11.8 hrs • 1/17/17 • Unabridged
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  8. 7.4 hrs • 1/17/2017 • Unabridged

    A sickly and awkward boy who turned into a country music legend, Hiram Williams had reinvented himself as Hank Williams and taken to alcohol by the age of 14. He was dead by the age of 29. Here, Paul Hemphill recounts the tortured life and whirlwind career of the hillbilly Shakespeare as only a fellow Southerner can.

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    Lovesick Blues

    7.4 hrs • 1/17/17 • Unabridged
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  9. 14.3 hrs • 1/17/2017 • Unabridged

    Born in 1927 to daringly enterprising black parents in the Deep South, Coretta Scott had always felt called to a special purpose. One of the first black scholarship students recruited to Antioch College, a committed pacifist, and a civil rights activist, she was an avowed feminist—a graduate student determined to pursue her own career—when she met Martin Luther King, Jr. a Baptist minister insistent that his wife stay home with the children. In love with King, and devoted to shared Christian beliefs and racial justice goals, she married him, and events promptly thrust her into a maelstrom of history throughout which she was a strategic partner, a standard bearer, a marcher, a negotiator and a crucial fundraiser in support of world-changing achievements. As a widow and single mother of four, while butting heads with the all-male African American leadership of the times, she championed gay rights and AIDS awareness, founded the King Center for Nonviolent Social Change, lobbied for fifteen years to help pass a bill establishing the US national holiday in honor of her slain husband, and was a powerful international presence, serving as a UN ambassador and playing a key role in Nelson Mandela’s election. Coretta is a love story, a family saga and the memoir of an independent-minded black woman in twentieth-century America, a brave leader who stood committed, proud, forgiving, nonviolent and hopeful in the face of terrorism and violent hatred every single day of her life.

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    My Life, My Love, My Legacy

    14.3 hrs • 1/17/17 • Unabridged
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  10. 6.5 hrs • 1/17/2017

    The former Obama administration “ambassador to America’s believers” gives an inside account of living with faith in the White House and argues that Christians have a responsibility to be a hopeful and faithful presence in public life. As a young Christian in his early twenties, Michael Wear found himself deep inside the halls of power in the Obama administration as one of the youngest ever White House staffers. Throwing himself wholeheartedly into transforming hope into change, Wear experienced first-hand the highs and lows of working as a Christian in government. From the central role of Christians in achievements such as the adoption tax credit and directing the president’s attention to human trafficking to the religious controversies and tensions that defined much of the president’s time in office, Reclaiming Hope gives an unvarnished account of life inside the most powerful office in the world. At a time when large numbers of thoughtful Christians argue for a withdrawal from participation in public institutions, Wear uses his experience at the white-hot center of civic life to show how and why Christians must be involved in every aspect of cultural life—even if failures seem to outnumber successes—while working on behalf of the nation’s common good.

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    Reclaiming Hope

    6.5 hrs • 1/17/17
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  11. 7.8 hrs • 1/10/2017 • Unabridged

    A story of David and Goliath proportions, how an American hedge fund manager created a unique school in Somaliland whose students, against all odds, have come to achieve success beyond anyone’s wildest dreams Jonathan Starr is not your traditional do-gooder, and in 2009, when he decided to found Abaarso, a secondary school in Somaliland, the choice seemed crazy to even his closest friends. Why, they wondered, would he turn down a life of relative luxury to relocate to an armed compound in a breakaway region of the world’s #1 failed state? To achieve his mission, Starr would have to overcome profound cultural differences, broken promises, and threats to his safety and that of his staff. It Takes a School is the story of how an abstract vision became a transformative reality, as Starr set out to build a school in a place forgotten by the world. It is the story of a skeptical and clan-based society learning to give way to trust. And it is the story of the students themselves, including a boy from a family of nomads who took off on his own in search of an education and a girl who waged a hunger strike in order to convince her strict parents to send her to Abaarso. Abaarso has placed forty graduates and counting in American universities, from Harvard to MIT, and sends Somaliland a clear message: its children can compete with anyone in the world. Now the initial question Starr was asked demands another: “If such a success can happen in an unrecognized breakaway region of Somalia, can it not happen anywhere?”

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    It Takes a School by Jonathan Starr

    It Takes a School

    7.8 hrs • 1/10/17 • Unabridged
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  12. 7.2 hrs • 1/10/2017 • Unabridged

    The extraordinary life of the woman behind the beloved children’s classics Goodnight Moon and The Runaway Bunny comes alive in this fascinating biography of Margaret Wise Brown. Margaret’s books have sold millions of copies all over the world, but few people know that she was at the center of a children’s book publishing revolution. Her whimsy and imagination fueled a steady stream of stories, book ideas, songs, and poems and she was renowned for her prolific writing and business savvy, as well as her stunning beauty and endless thirst for adventure. Margaret started her writing career by helping to shape the curriculum for the Bank Street School for Children, making it her mission to create stories that would rise above traditional fairy tales and allowed girls to see themselves as equal to boys. At the same time, she also experimented endlessly with her own writing. Margaret would spend days researching subjects, picking daisies, cloud gazing, and observing nature, all in an effort to precisely capture a child’s sense of awe and wonder as they discovered the world. Clever, quirky, and incredibly talented, Margaret embraced life with passion, lived extravagantly off of her royalties, went on rabbit hunts, and carried on long and troubled love affairs with both men and women. Among them were two great loves in Margaret’s life. One was a gender-bending poet and the ex-wife of John Barrymore. She went by the stage name of Michael Strange and she and Margaret had a tempestuous yet secret relationship, at one point living next door to each other so that they could be together. After the dissolution of their relationship and Michael’s death, Margaret became engaged to a younger man, who also happened to be the son of a Rockefeller and a Carnegie. But before they could marry Margaret died unexpectedly at the age of forty-two, leaving behind a cache of unpublished work and a timeless collection of books that would go on to become classics in children’s literature. Author Amy Gary captures the eccentric and exceptional life of Margaret Wise Brown, and drawing on newly discovered personal letters and diaries, reveals an intimate portrait of a creative genius whose unrivaled talent breathed new life into the literary world.

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    In the Great Green Room by Amy Gary

    In the Great Green Room

    7.2 hrs • 1/10/17 • Unabridged
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  13. 10.9 hrs • 1/10/2017 • Unabridged

    The radical search for the simple life in today’s America. In the dead of winter, a former marine biologist and his pregnant wife, a classically trained opera singer, disembark an Amtrak train in La Plata, Missouri, assemble two bikes, and pedal off into the night, bound for a homestead they’ve purchased, sight unseen. Meanwhile, in Detroit, a horticulturist, daughter of the city and descendant of Mississippi sharecroppers, and her husband, a disillusioned public school teacher, have turned to urban farming to revitalize the blighted city they both love. And near Missoula, Montana, a couple who have been at the forefront of organic farming for decades navigate what it means to live and raise a family ethically. More than ever, we seem to be yearning for “the simple life.” We want to reconnect with the land and the environment in a deeper way that can assuage modern ills. We seek a livelihood that exercises body and mind without taking a toll on the planet. We long to nurture spirit and community instead of distracting and isolating ourselves with electronics. We even dream utopian dreams of discovering ways of life that model for others answers to the question of how we can live more sustainably, peacefully, authentically. A work of immersive journalism steeped in a distinctively American social history and sparked by a personal quest, The Unsettlers traces the search for the simple life not only through the stories of those three very different couples, but through the visionaries, ascetics, and artists that inspired each of them to walk away from the life they knew in order to find (or create) a better existence. Captivating and clear-eyed, it dares us to imagine what a sustainable, ethical, authentic future might actually look like.

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    The Unsettlers

    10.9 hrs • 1/10/17 • Unabridged
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  14. 9.3 hrs • 1/10/2017 • Unabridged

    An inventor, adventurer, entrepreneur, collector, and entertainer, and son of legendary scientist-astronaut Owen Garriott, Richard Garriott de Cayeux has been behind some of the most exciting undertakings of our time. A legendary pioneer of the online gaming industry—and a member of every gaming Hall of Fame—Garriott invented the multi-player online game, and coined the term “Avatar” to describe an individual’s online character. A lifelong adventurer and member of the Explorers Club, Garriott has used the fortune he amassed from the gaming business to embark on a number of thrilling expeditions. He has plumbed the depths of the Atlantic ocean to see the remains of the Titanic, hunted for meteorites in Antarctica, and in 2008 became one of the first private citizens to be launched into space. Richard has been one of the foremost pioneers of the private space industry, investing his time and energy into making space travel more accessible. In this fascinating memoir, Garriott invites readers on the great adventure that is his life. An audacious genius with an insatiable curiosity and an irrepressible playfulness, Garriott takes readers on an unforgettable intellectual experience that is enlightening, adventurous, and fun.

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    Explore/Create by Richard Garriott, David Fisher

    Explore/Create

    9.3 hrs • 1/10/17 • Unabridged
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  15. 8.8 hrs • 1/10/2017 • Unabridged

    A man of deep passion and intensity, George Karl earned his bad boy reputation while playing at the University of North Carolina, a rap that continued through the five years he spent with the San Antonio Spurs—and long after he stopped playing. Karl’s beery nights, fistfights, and barking followed him into a thirty-five-year coaching career. In a game defined by big stakes and bigger egos, rabid fans and an unforgiving media, Karl was hired and fired a dozen times. After leading a team beset by injuries and with no superstar to its best season of all time—an achievement that earned Karl the title NBA Coach of the Year—he was dumped by the Denver Nuggets in 2013. Less than a year and a half later, Karl was at the helm of the Sacramento Kings, snarling and bellowing on the sidelines before being cut loose in May 2016. Intense, obstinate, and loud, Karl has never backed down from a confrontation, whether with management, officials, or star players, as NBA legends from Allan Iverson to Gary Payton to Carmelo Anthony to Demarcus Cousins can attest. Telling his story, Karl holds nothing back as he speaks out about the game that has defined his life, including the greed, selfishness, and ass-covering he believes are characteristic of the modern NBA player, and the rampant corruption that leads all the way to the office of the NBA commissioner, David Stern. Karl also reveals how he’s learned to deal with the personalities, the pressure, and the setbacks with a resilience he acquired from his three bouts with cancer. Raw, hard-hitting, and brutally honest, Furious George is as thrilling, unpredictable, and entertaining as the game that has defined Karl’s life.

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    Furious George by George Karl, Curt Sampson

    Furious George

    8.8 hrs • 1/10/17 • Unabridged
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  16. 10.6 hrs • 1/10/2017 • Unabridged

    As president, the former Supreme Commander of Allied Forces during World War II successfully guided the country out of war in Korea, through the apocalyptic threat of nuclear war with Russia, and into one of the greatest economic booms in world history. In this last address to the nation, Eisenhower looked to the future, warning Americans against the dangers of elevating partisanship above national interest, excessive government budgets (particularly deficit spending), the expansion of the military-industrial complex, and the creeping political power of special interests. Baier explores the many ways these visionary words continue to resonate today; he also explains how Ike embodied the qualities of political leadership that the country is urgently hungering for at the present. Seeking to prepare a new generation for power, Eisenhower intensely advised the forty-three-year-old Kennedy in the intervening time between the speech and the inauguration. Dwight Eisenhower left the public stage at the end of these three days in January 1961 having done more than perhaps any other modern American to set the nation “on our charted course toward permanent peace and human betterment.” Despite their differences in party affiliation, President Kennedy would continue to seek his predecessor’s advice and counsel during his time in office. Five decades later, Baier’s Three Days in January illuminates how Eisenhower, an under-appreciated giant of U.S. history, still offers vital lessons for our own time.

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    Three Days in January

    10.6 hrs • 1/10/17 • Unabridged
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