KC Unbound

Carlotta Walls LaNier, one of the Little Rock Nine, had the courage to face daily insults and challenges as a teenager in the newly integrated Little Rock Central High School in the late 1950s. These books tell the stories of other everyday heroes who helped to turn civil rights from a cause into a movement that relied on the willingness of average citizens to make sacrifices for equality.

A Mighty Long Way: My Journey to Justice at Little Rock Central High School
By Carlotta Walls LaNier; Foreword by Bill Clinton
When 14-year-old Carlotta Walls walks up the stairs of Little Rock Central High School on September 25, 1957, she and eight other black students only want to make it to class. But the journey of the "Little Rock Nine" would lead the nation on an even longer and much more turbulent path, one that would forever change the landscape of America.

Robert Altman’s successful filmmaking career spanned over forty years. This list includes books that explore his work and a selection of movies directed by him.

Related:
Event: Mitchell Zuckoff discusses his book Robert Altman, Nov. 9, 2009
Film series: Unscripted: The Films of Robert Altman, November 2009

Robert Altman: The Oral Biography
By Mitchell Zuckoff
The book is based on exclusive interviews with Altman as well as interviews with family and friends, a few enemies, agents, writers, crew members, and the stars who worked with him, including: Meryl Streep, Warren Beatty, Tim Robbins, Julianne Moore, Paul Newman, Julie Christie, Elliott Gould, Martin Scorsese, and Robin Williams.

Learn about the Chinese economy, its success, and growth in these books at the Library.

Superfusion: How China and America Became One Economy and Why the World's Prosperity Depends On It
By Zachary Karabell
The emergence of China as an economic superpower is now widely recognized, but as Zachary Karabell reveals, that is only one aspect of the story. Over the past decade, the Chinese and U.S. economies have fused to become one integrated system. How China and the United States manage their relationship will determine whether the coming decades witness increased global prosperity or greater instability.

November 9, 2009, is the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. These books at the Library explore the history of the Wall and modern Berlin.

Tear Down This Wall: A City, a President, and the Speech That Ended the Cold War
By Romesh Ratnesar
This book explores the events leading up to and after the “Tear Down this Wall” speech that President Ronald Reagan gave in front of 20,000 people in West Berlin. 

The Fall of the Berlin Wall
By William F. Buckley
The fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989 was the turning point in the struggle against Communism in Eastern Europe. William F. Buckley, conservative pundit, explains how and why the Cold War ended as it did – and what lessons we can draw from the experience.

These books at the Library tell the personal stories of people who have experienced homelessness firsthand.

Related event:
Steve Lopez discusses his book The Soloist, Nov. 4, 2009

The Soloist: A Lost Dream, an Unlikely Friendship, and the Redemptive Power of Music
By Steve Lopez
This moving story of a remarkable bond between a journalist in search of a story and a homeless, classically trained musician, The Soloist was also made into a feature film starring Jamie Foxx and Robert Downey, Jr.

Nomads of a Desert City book jacket

Nomads of a Desert City: Personal Stories from Citizens of the Street
Photographs & interviews by Barbara Seyda
Seyda interviewed and photographed thirteen homeless men and women, young and old, in Tucson, Arizona. This book presents a portrait of life on the street and in homeless shelters in the words of those who live it.

These memoirs and histories depict life in Hungary – from World War II to living under Communist rule to the Hungarian Revolution of 1956.

Enemies of the People: My Family's Journey to America
By Kati Marton
Renowned author Kati Marton tells how her journalist parents survived the Nazis in Budapest and were imprisoned by the Soviets. After obtaining secret police files detailing her family's activities in Budapest during Nazi and Communist regimes, Marton discovered terrifying truths: secret love affairs, betrayals inside the family circle, and brutalities alongside acts of stunning courage - and, above all, deep family love. Based on reports and her own interviews, she reveals how her parents - pawns in the Cold War between Washington and Moscow - were betrayed by friends and colleagues, even their babysitter, and eventually imprisoned.

The anti-Communist movement in the United States grew to a fever pitch in the 1950s. These books explore the impact, history, and personal stories of the Red Scare.

American Blacklist: The Attorney General's List of Subversive Organizations
By Robert Justin Goldstein
American Blacklist is a full-length study of the so-called Attorney General's List of Subversive Organizations (AGLOSO) and its critical role in the post-World War II Red Scare.

These books about the first President of the United States include recent biographies, examinations of specific aspects of his life, and more.

The Ascent of George Washington: The Hidden Political Genius of an American Icon
By John Ferling
Bestselling historian Ferling draws on his knowledge of the Founding Fathers to provide a fresh and provocative new portrait of George Washington. Ferling argues that not only was Washington one of America's most adroit politicians – the proof of his genius is that he is no longer thought of as a politician at all.

Learn all about Israel’s turbulent history in these books at the Library.

A Safe Haven: Harry S. Truman and the Founding of Israel
By Allis Radosh and Ronald Radosh
The Radoshes present a dramatic, in-depth account of President Harry S. Truman's controversial decision to recognize the state of Israel. Allis and Ronald Radosh explore the national and global pressures bearing on Truman and the people - including the worldwide Jewish community, key White House advisers, the State Department, the British, the Arabs, and the representatives of the new United Nations - whose influence, on both sides, led to his decision.

Donna Trussell prepares to sign her book at the Thorpe Menn Award at the Kansas City Library.

One of Kansas City’s most appreciated literary awards was given on Saturday, October 3 at the Central Library. The Thorpe Menn Award is sponsored by the Kansas City branch of the American Association of University Women and given each year to local author who exhibits the highest level of literary excellence.

The award was established in 1979 by the Kansas City branch of AAUW. Mr. Menn was a longtime book editor of the Kansas City Star and supported all aspects of Kansas City’s cultural life, but he held a special place in his heart for Kansas City’s authors and artists.

The Reading Committee of the Kansas City AAUW start their reading early. They diligently pursue copies of every locally published novel, collection of poetry or short stories, or nonfiction and from these many books, create a nomination list. The list is further narrowed to three honorees and from these three the Kansas City AAUW make a difficult decision to name a winner.

How has the U.S. Supreme Court evolved over the years? These books explore the history of the Supreme Court and some of its landmark cases.

Related event:
Bob Levy discusses The Dirty Dozen, Oct. 13, 2009

The Dirty Dozen: How Twelve Supreme Court Cases Radically Expanded Government and Eroded Freedom
By Robert A. Levy and William Mellor
Taking on 12 Supreme Court cases that have changed American history, Levy and Mellor untangle complex Court opinions to explain how they have harmed ordinary Americans.

Packing the Court: The Rise of Judicial Power and the Coming Crisis of the Supreme Court
By James MacGregor Burns
From political theorist and Pulitzer Prize-winner Burns comes a critique of how an unstable, unaccountable, and frequently partisan Supreme Court has come to wield more power than the founding fathers ever intended.

These books at the Library all explore the art and craft of memoir writing.

The Memoir and the Memoirist: Reading and Writing Personal Narrative
By Thomas Larson
The memoir is one of the most popular and expressive literary forms of our time. In The Memoir and the Memoirist, critic and memoirist Thomas Larson explores the craft and purpose of writing this new form. Larson guides the reader from the autobiography and the personal essay to the memoir – a genre focused on a particularly emotional relationship in the author's past, an intimate story concerned more with who is remembering, and why, than with what is remembered. For both the interested reader of memoir and the writer wrestling with the craft, this book provides guidance and insight into the many facets of this provocative and popular art form.

These historical novels all take place during the Civil War or immediately afterward.

Related event:
Robert Hicks discusses A Separate Country, Oct. 6, 2009

A Separate Country
By Robert Hicks
Set in New Orleans in the years after the Civil War, A Separate Country is based on the incredible life of John Bell Hood, arguably one of the most controversial generals of the Confederate Army – and one of its most tragic figures. Robert E. Lee promoted him to major general after the Battle of Antietam. But the Civil War would mark him forever. At Gettysburg, he lost the use of his left arm. At the Battle of Chickamauga, his right leg was amputated. A Separate Country is the heartrending story of a decent and good man who struggled with his inability to admit his failures – and the story of those who taught him to love, and to be loved, and transformed him. 

Banned Books Week

It’s Banned Books Week from September 26 – October 3, 2009, a time for everyone to celebrate their freedom to read. This list includes the top 10 books of 2008 most frequently challenged (books that individuals or groups attempted to remove or restrict). For more books, check out the American Library Association’s list of all books challenged and banned in 2008-2009 (pdf).

And Tango Makes Three
By Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
Based on the true story of two male penguins at the Central Park Zoo who built a nest and hatched a chick together, this picture book for children tells a heartwarming story.

These memoirs all recount experiments in living (most within a one-year time frame), from eating locally to reading the Oxford English Dictionary to cooking every recipe in a classic cookbook.

Related event:
A.J. Jacobs discusses The Guinea Pig Diaries, Sept. 30, 2009

The Guinea Pig Diaries: My Life as an Experiment
By A.J. Jacobs
The Guinea Pig Diaries is a collection of essays written by Jacobs as he immersed himself in eight different lifestyles to see what he could learn. For “My Life as a Hot Woman,” the author lived undercover as a beautiful woman, signing his son’s nanny up on a dating web site. For “My Outsourced Life,” he hired a team of people in Bangalore, India, to answer his e-mails, respond to phone calls, and argue with his wife for him (and then buy her gifts when he wins).

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