The Library Book

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A REESE WITHERSPOON x HELLO SUNSHINE BOOK CLUB PICK

A WASHINGTON POST TOP 10 BOOK OF THE YEAR * A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER and NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK OF 2018

“A constant pleasure to read…Everybody who loves books should check out The Library Book.” —The Washington Post

“CAPTIVATING…DELIGHTFUL.” —Christian Science Monitor * “EXQUISITELY WRITTEN, CONSISTENTLY ENTERTAINING.” —The New York Times * “MESMERIZING…RIVETING.” —Booklist (starred review)

A dazzling love letter to a beloved institution—and an investigation into one of its greatest mysteries—from the bestselling author hailed as a “national treasure” by The Washington Post.

On the morning of April 29, 1986, a fire alarm sounded in the Los Angeles Public Library. As the moments passed, the patrons and staff who had been cleared out of the building realized this was not the usual fire alarm. As one fireman recounted, “Once that first stack got going, it was ‘Goodbye, Charlie.’” The fire was disastrous: it reached 2000 degrees and burned for more than seven hours. By the time it was extinguished, it had consumed four hundred thousand books and damaged seven hundred thousand more. Investigators descended on the scene, but more than thirty years later, the mystery remains: Did someone purposefully set fire to the library—and if so, who?

Weaving her lifelong love of books and reading into an investigation of the fire, award-winning New Yorker reporter and New York Times bestselling author Susan Orlean delivers a mesmerizing and uniquely compelling book that manages to tell the broader story of libraries and librarians in a way that has never been done before.

In The Library Book, Orlean chronicles the LAPL fire and its aftermath to showcase the larger, crucial role that libraries play in our lives; delves into the evolution of libraries across the country and around the world, from their humble beginnings as a metropolitan charitable initiative to their current status as a cornerstone of national identity; brings each department of the library to vivid life through on-the-ground reporting; studies arson and attempts to burn a copy of a book herself; reflects on her own experiences in libraries; and reexamines the case of Harry Peak, the blond-haired actor long suspected of setting fire to the LAPL more than thirty years ago.

Along the way, Orlean introduces us to an unforgettable cast of characters from libraries past and present—from Mary Foy, who in 1880 at eighteen years old was named the head of the Los Angeles Public Library at a time when men still dominated the role, to Dr. C.J.K. Jones, a pastor, citrus farmer, and polymath known as “The Human Encyclopedia” who roamed the library dispensing information; from Charles Lummis, a wildly eccentric journalist and adventurer who was determined to make the L.A. library one of the best in the world, to the current staff, who do heroic work every day to ensure that their institution remains a vital part of the city it serves.

Brimming with her signature wit, insight, compassion, and talent for deep research, The Library Book is Susan Orlean’s thrilling journey through the stacks that reveals how these beloved institutions provide much more than just books—and why they remain an essential part of the heart, mind, and soul of our country. It is also a master journalist’s reminder that, perhaps especially in the digital era, they are more necessary than ever.
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About the author

Susan Orlean has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 1992. She is the author of seven books, including Rin Tin Tin, Saturday Night, and The Orchid Thief, which was made into the Academy Award–winning film Adaptation. She lives with her family and her animals in upstate New York and may be reached at SusanOrlean.com and Twitter.com/SusanOrlean.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Simon and Schuster
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Published on
Oct 16, 2018
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Pages
336
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ISBN
9781476740201
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Language
English
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Genres
History / General
History / Social History
History / United States / 20th Century
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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From New York Times bestselling author Simon Baatz, the first comprehensive account of the murder that shocked the world.

In 1901 Evelyn Nesbit, a chorus girl in the musical Florodora, dined alone with the architect Stanford White in his townhouse on 24th Street in New York. Nesbit, just sixteen years old, had recently moved to the city. White was forty-seven and a principal in the prominent architectural firm McKim, Mead & White. As the foremost architect of his day, he was a celebrity, responsible for designing countless landmark buildings in Manhattan. That evening, after drinking champagne, Nesbit lost consciousness and awoke to find herself naked in bed with White. Telltale spots of blood on the bed sheets told her that White had raped her.

She told no one about the rape until, several years later, she confided in Harry Thaw, the millionaire playboy who would later become her husband. Thaw, thirsting for revenge, shot and killed White in 1906 before hundreds of theatergoers during a performance in Madison Square Garden, a building that White had designed.

The trial was a sensation that gripped the nation. Most Americans agreed with Thaw that he had been justified in killing White, but the district attorney expected to send him to the electric chair. Evelyn Nesbit's testimony was so explicit and shocking that Theodore Roosevelt himself called on the newspapers not to print it verbatim. The murder of White cast a long shadow: Harry Thaw later attempted suicide, and Evelyn Nesbit struggled for many years to escape an addiction to cocaine. The Girl on the Velvet Swing, a tale of glamour, excess, and danger, is an immersive, fascinating look at an America dominated by men of outsize fortunes and by the women who were their victims.
A New York Times Bestseller!

John Flammang Schrank—a lonely Manhattan saloonkeeper—was obsessed with the 1912 presidential election and Theodore Roosevelt. The ex-president’s extremism and third-term campaign were downright un-American. Convinced that TR would ignite civil war and leave the nation open to foreign invasion, Schrank answered what he believed to be a divine summons, buying a gun and stalking Roosevelt across seven Southern and Midwestern states, blending into throngs of supporters. In Chattanooga and Chicago, he failed to act. In Milwaukee, on October 14, Schrank crossed TR’s path again—BANG!

Theodore Roosevelt and the Assassin is the dynamic unfolding account of the audacious attempt on Roosevelt’s life by a lone and fanatical assailant. Based on original sources including police interrogations, eyewitness testimony, and newspaper reports, the book is above all a fast-paced, suspenseful narrative. Drawing from Schrank’s own statements and writings, it also provides a chilling glimpse into the mind of a political assassin. Rich with local color and period detail, it transports the reader to the American heartland during a pivotal moment in our history, when the forces of progressivism and conservatism were battling for the nation’s soul—and the most revered man in America traveled across the country campaigning relentlessly against Howard Taft, Woodrow Wilson, and Socialist Eugene V. Debs in what historians agree was the first modern American presidential contest.

From the end of Reconstruction to the onset of the civil rights era, lynching was prevalent in developing and frontier regions that had a dynamic and fluid African American population. Focusing on Mississippi and South Carolina because of the high proportion of African Americans in each state during "the age of lynching," Terence Finnegan explains lynching as a consequence of the revolution in social relations—assertiveness, competition, and tension—that resulted from emancipation. A comprehensive study of lynching in Mississippi and South Carolina, A Deed So Accursed reveals the economic and social circumstances that spawned lynching and explores the interplay between extralegal violence and political and civil rights.

Finnegan's research shows that lynching rates depended on factors other than caste conflict and the interaction of race and southern notions of honor. Although lynching supported the ends of white supremacy, many mobs lynched more for private retaliation than for communal motives, which explains why mobs varied greatly in size, organization, behavior, and purpose.

The resistance of African Americans was vigorous and sustained and took on a variety of forms, but depending on the circumstances, black resistance could sometimes provoke rather than deter lynching. Ultimately, Finnegan shows how out of the tragedy of lynching came the triumph of the civil rights movement, which was built upon the organizational efforts of African American anti-lynching campaigns.

During the Great Depression, writers of True Crime could take the decade off: life was imitating art so dramatically they had nothing to add. In these pages historian Robert Underhill presents the most notorious criminals of 1930-1934: Wilbur Underhill, Alvin Karpis, the Barker Clan, Pretty Boy Floyd, Baby Face Nelson, the Barrows (Buck, Blanche, Clyde, and Bonnie), and John Dillinger along with supporting material on their henchmen and the rise of the FBI. Often armed better than the police, criminals of the 1930s committed deeds ranging from stealing chickens to kidnappings, bank robberies, and killing innocent victims. Yet such crimes were often taken in stride by avid readers. Cooperation among local, state and federal lawmen was rare as each sought to protect his own turf. Criminals and lawmen made mistakes battling one another, but in most cases the law triumphed and the wanted fugitive died under a hail of bullets. His death would start myths and raise his reputation to national status. The author of 'Against the Grain: Six Men Who Shaped America' and 'The Rise and Fall of Franklin D. Roosevelt' shows us another aspect of the Roosevelt era and portrays a series of figures who contributed to pop culture as well helping to shape the security forces in America. Robbing the banks and driving fast cars, they did what many Americans dreamed of, and gave a depressed populace some excitement to distract from everyday worries. With the Great Depression, some citizens came to regard bank robbers as modern Robin Hoods seeking to avenge depositors whose life earnings had been wiped out by a bank's failure or malfeasance by its owners. No small wonder that criminals were given colorful sobriquets and fact and fiction became intertwined. Underhill shows how such heists, and kidnappings especially, helped create the modern FBI, overcoming the complaints of those who alleged that a federal force was the first step toward an American Gestapo. The belief that federal government had nothing to do with fighting crime was rooted in the U.S. Constitution and its provisions for states' rights. Local police were expected to provide security and to apprehend criminals without Washington getting involved. In the big cities, Prohibition era mobsters still ruled, but in the Midwest especially, smaller bands, "gangsters," began to make headlines. They tended to be blue-collar criminals whose favorite targets were filling stations, grocery stores, and small town banks. Prior to 1930, corruption was rife and cooperation among local, state, and federal police was little to none; criminals often got away. Only in 1935 was the FBI formally anointed and its agents were permitted to carry guns. Now, there was a federal agency that could supply sheriffs all over the country with information on suspected criminals. By 1935, the hardest times of the Depression were beginning to ease and the thrill of watching these cops-and-robber stories play out was combined with a renewed interest in the lives of the rich and famous, previously scorned for their role in ripping off the average man. All in all, the early 1930s were a uniquely dramatic time for crime and crimestoppers in America.
This book is about grasping power and once achieving it, using that power to assassinate all challengers to the power gained. The Warren Commission Report concluded that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone and was not part of a conspiracy, and went on to say that there is no evidence of a conspiracy. This report pacified the American public for the last 49 years. Logic and Reason dictates otherwise. Each of us have the ability to use our own logic to determine who had the most to gain from the President John F. Kennedy assassination. However it seems unreasonable that he could do it alone and get away with it. So it doesnt pass the reason test. Therefore, logic again comes into the equation that would require a co-conspirator capable of providing a complete cover-up, so the conspirators will never be caught. The co-conspirators need only patsies to take the blame with promises of a fee or fame or whatever satisfies their weaknesses. With the Kennedy assassination completed and blamed on Lee Harvey Oswald, who is murdered before he can utter more that Im just a patsy the American population seems satisfied that he paid for his crime, while the conspirators remain free. Using the same procedure of patsies to take the rap, the logical conspirators assassinate Martin Luther King Jr. and Senator Robert Kennedy, a leading Democratic Candidate for President in 1968, and got away with it. Your use of logic and reason may lead you to the same conclusion that a conspiracy of the highest magnitude took the lives of these three idealists.
The New York Times bestselling book about the early development, growth, and exercise of leadership from Pulitzer Prize-winning author Doris Kearns Goodwin “should help us raise our expectations of our national leaders, our country, and ourselves” (The Washington Post).

“After five decades of magisterial output, Doris Kearns Goodwin leads the league of presidential historians” (USA TODAY). In her “inspiring” (The Christian Science Monitor) Leadership, Doris Kearns Goodwin draws upon the four presidents she has studied most closely—Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Lyndon B. Johnson (in civil rights)—to show how they recognized leadership qualities within themselves and were recognized as leaders by others. By looking back to their first entries into public life, we encounter them at a time when their paths were filled with confusion, fear, and hope.

Leadership tells the story of how they all collided with dramatic reversals that disrupted their lives and threatened to shatter forever their ambitions. Nonetheless, they all emerged fitted to confront the contours and dilemmas of their times. At their best, all four were guided by a sense of moral purpose. At moments of great challenge, they were able to summon their talents to enlarge the opportunities and lives of others. Does the leader make the times or do the times make the leader?

“If ever our nation needed a short course on presidential leadership, it is now” (The Seattle Times). This seminal work provides an accessible and essential road map for aspiring and established leaders in every field. In today’s polarized world, these stories of authentic leadership in times of apprehension and fracture take on a singular urgency. “Goodwin’s volume deserves much praise—it is insightful, readable, compelling: Her book arrives just in time” (The Boston Globe).
*A New York Times Notable Book*
*A Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the Year*

From the bestselling National Book Award finalist and author of The Big House comes “a well-blended narrative packed with top-notch reporting and relevance for our own time” (The Boston Globe) about the young athletes who battled in the legendary Harvard-Yale football game of 1968 amidst the sweeping currents of one of the most transformative years in American history.

On November 23, 1968, there was a turbulent and memorable football game: the season-ending clash between Harvard and Yale. The final score was 29-29. To some of the players, it was a triumph; to others a tragedy. And to many, the reasons had as much to do with one side’s miraculous comeback in the game’s final forty-two seconds as it did with the months that preceded it, months that witnessed the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy, police brutality at the Democratic National Convention, inner-city riots, campus takeovers, and, looming over everything, the war in Vietnam.

George Howe Colt’s The Game is the story of that iconic American year, as seen through the young men who lived it and were changed by it. One player had recently returned from Vietnam. Two were members of the radical antiwar group SDS. There was one NFL prospect who quit to devote his time to black altruism; another who went on to be Pro-Bowler Calvin Hill. There was a guard named Tommy Lee Jones, and fullback who dated a young Meryl Streep. They played side by side and together forged a moment of startling grace in the midst of the storm.

“Vibrant, energetic, and beautifully structured” (NPR), this magnificent and intimate work of history is the story of ordinary people in an extraordinary time, and of a country facing issues that we continue to wrestle with to this day. “The Game is the rare sports book that lives up to the claim of so many entrants in this genre: It is the portrait of an era” (The Wall Street Journal).
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK
 
A modern classic of personal journalism, The Orchid Thief is Susan Orlean’s wickedly funny, elegant, and captivating tale of an amazing obsession. Determined to clone an endangered flower—the rare ghost orchid Polyrrhiza lindenii—a deeply eccentric and oddly attractive man named John Laroche leads Orlean on an unforgettable tour of America’s strange flower-selling subculture, through Florida’s swamps and beyond, along with the Seminoles who help him and the forces of justice who fight him. In the end, Orlean—and the reader—will have more respect for underdog determination and a powerful new definition of passion.
 
In this new edition, coming fifteen years after its initial publication and twenty years after she first met the “orchid thief,” Orlean revisits this unforgettable world, and the route by which it was brought to the screen in the film Adaptation, in a new retrospective essay.

Look for special features inside. Join the Random House Reader’s Circle for author chats and more.
 
Praise for The Orchid Thief
 
“Stylishly written, whimsical yet sophisticated, quirkily detailed and full of empathy . . . The Orchid Thief shows [Orlean’s] gifts in full bloom.”—The New York Times Book Review
 
“Fascinating . . . an engrossing journey [full] of theft, hatred, greed, jealousy, madness, and backstabbing.”—Los Angeles Times
 
“Orlean’s snapshot-vivid, pitch-perfect prose . . . is fast becoming one of our national treasures.”—The Washington Post Book World
 
“Orlean’s gifts [are] her ear for the self-skewing dialogue, her eye for the incongruous, convincing detail, and her Didion-like deftness in description.”—Boston Sunday Globe
 
“A swashbuckling piece of reporting that celebrates some virtues that made America great.”—The Wall Street Journal
"Reporter is just wonderful. Truly a great life, and what shines out of the book, amid the low cunning and tireless legwork, is Hersh's warmth and humanity. This book is essential reading for every journalist and aspiring journalist the world over." —John le Carré 

From the Pulitzer Prize-winning, best-selling author and preeminent investigative journalist of our time—a heartfelt, hugely revealing memoir of a decades-long career breaking some of the most impactful stories of the last half-century, from Washington to Vietnam to the Middle East.

Seymour Hersh's fearless reporting has earned him fame, front-page bylines in virtually every major newspaper in the free world, honors galore, and no small amount of controversy. Now in this memoir he describes what drove him and how he worked as an independent outsider, even at the nation's most prestigious publications. He tells the stories behind the stories—riveting in their own right—as he chases leads, cultivates sources, and grapples with the weight of what he uncovers, daring to challenge official narratives handed down from the powers that be. In telling these stories, Hersh divulges previously unreported information about some of his biggest scoops, including the My Lai massacre and the horrors at Abu Ghraib. There are also illuminating recollections of some of the giants of American politics and journalism: Ben Bradlee, A. M. Rosenthal, David Remnick, and Henry Kissinger among them. This is essential reading on the power of the printed word at a time when good journalism is under fire as never before.
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