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BIOGRAPHY Leo Durocher : Baseball’s Prodigal Son By Paul Dickson Bloomsbury 368 pages, $28 Paul Dickson’s first baseball biography was about Bill Veeck, one of the most interesting characters in the sport’s history. He’s taken an even bigger challenge in his second such book. It’s not easy to wrap one’s hands around the force of nature that was p…

The Moth Presents ‘All These Wonders: True Stories About the Unknown’ edited by Catherine Burns, foreward by Neil Gaiman, Crown Archetype, 331 pages, $25. Storytelling is not automatically literature. If it were, your Uncle Harvey -- who can be a dining room spellbinder at Christmas (or Passover or Thanksgiving) -- would be up there with Tolstoy. Nor, for that matte…

YOUNG ADULT The Whole Thing Together by Ann Brashares; Delacorte Press, 293 pages ($18.99) A list of players is required in the preface to sort out the complicated Thomas-Harrison  clan - divided by a very bitter divorce and subsequent remarriages - in this beautifully written novel from the author of the "Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" series. Emma, Quinn an…

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Orchard Park native Elizabeth Semmelhack has made a career out of studying footwear. The senior curator at Toronto’s Bata Shoe Museum, she has written multiple books on footwear. But when a graduate student saw the the museum's sneaker collection, told her it was too small and told her she “needed to do something about that,” she did. The result was a traveling…

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It’s now well known that corporations with products executives knew carried dangerous health risks spent decades deceiving the public through compromised research, government lobbying and misleading advertising. Tobacco, lead paint and asbestos are among the most egregious cases. Gary Taubes, an investigative writer on nutrition and chronic diseases, brings another to…

CHILDREN’S Bronze and Sunflower by Cao Wenxuan; translated from the Mandarin by Helen Wang; illustrated by Meilo So; Candlewick Press, 381 pages ($16.99). Ages 8 and up. ... Two lonely children, scarred by tragedy, form an inseparable bond in this lovely novel from a beloved Chinese author set in the Chinese countryside during the Cultural Revolution. Seven-year-ol…

NONFICTION At The Edge Of The World: The Heroic Century Of The French Foreign Legion By Jean-Vincent Blanchard Bloomsbury Press 272 pages,  $30 By Michael D. Langan “Blood, bullets, bayonets, and women in an Arab land: How and why did the Legion come to exert such a mysterious attraction, embodying both the violence of war and the lure of exoticism?  …

FICTION Running By Cara Hoffman Simon & Schuster 276 pages, $26 By Stephanie Shapiro She writes like an angel and creates corners of hell for her characters to inhabit. The result in "Running" is that Cara Hoffman has mastered her craft and produced a full-fledged work of art. As the teen-age drifter Bridey says of herself and her two companion…

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"A Really Big Lunch: The Roving Gourmand on Food and Life," by Jim Harrison with an introduction by Mario Batali, Grove Press, 275 pages, $26 Get this. That’s my earnest advice. If you merely have a passing interest in the revolution in food writing of the past 50 years, you need to know about the most macho food writer of them all, the late novelist, poet, essayis…

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Portraits of Courage: A Commander in Chief's Tribute to America's Warriors By George W. Bush Crown 192 pages, $35 During his eight years as commander in chief of the United States Armed Forces, George W. Bush sent thousands of men and women into harm’s way. When they came back, if they came back, they carried deep physical and emotional scars. Some of t…

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BIOGRAPHY Charlton Heston: Hollywood’s Last Icon By Marc Eliot Dey Street Books $29.99, 576 pages By Susan Wloszczyna Over-the-hill silent-era siren Norma Desmond  protested “I am BIG – it’s the pictures that got small” in the 1950 showbiz noir "Sunset Boulevard." But Hollywood would spend much of the following post-war decade producing massive…

“Poems in the Manner of....” By David Lehman, Scribner, 144 pages, $18, paperback. The first thing that no doubt occurs to you is that Lehman is doing parodies for yuk’s sake. But no, that’s not really what this book is all about. The tradition in all the arts, is so much older and more complex than that, whether we’re talking about Bach and Vivaldi or Shakesp…

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NONFICTION Toxic Inequality: How America's Wealth Gap Destroys Mobility, Deepens the Racial Divide & Threatens Our Future By Thomas M. Shapiro Basic Books 225 pages, $28 Dream Hoarders: How the American Upper Middle Class Is Leaving Everyone Else in the Dust, Why That Is a Problem, and What to Do About It By Richard V. Reeves Brookings Institution …

Robert Lowell--Setting the River on Fire: A Study of Genius, Mania, and Character By Kay Redfield Jamison Knopf 532 pages, $29.95 By William L. Morris If you lived in the 1950s you must remember the movie “The Bad Seed” starring an adorable, pig-tailed Patty McCormack as a serial killer where madness is equated with murder and innocence hides evil. At…

CHILDREN’S Miss Ellicott’s School for the Magically Minded by Sage Blackwood; Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins; 368 pages ($16.99) Ages 8 to 12. ... A huge wall – called “The Seven Buttons” - is all that protects the Kingdom of Lightning Pass from destruction by Marauders outside. Or so the people of Lightning Pass – and the “magical maidens” in train…