Celebrity Picks: Ron Chernow's Favorite Reads of 2017

RonChernow225Grant is the second massive biography of Ulysses Grant to be published in just over a year. How many writers could make such a thing a must-read? The only one I can think of is National Book Award- and Pulitzer Prize-winner, Ron Chernow. With the same storytelling verve and historical thoroughness that made his biographies of John D. Rockefeller (Titan) and Alexander Hamilton indispensable, Chernow's portrait of the often misunderstood general is well under way to earning the author even more accolades.

What does Chernow like to read, himself? Don't be intimidated; see his picks below, and look here for the latest celebrity favorites.


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Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders
Through his own special brand of alchemy, George Saunders gives us a harrowing meditation on Abraham Lincoln as he communes with his dead son Willie in a D.C. graveyard. At the same time, he conjures up a noisy community of resident ghosts who follow these events and squawk interminably about the injustice of their lives. This masterpiece of black humor is morbid, scathing, heartfelt, and hilarious all at once.
 

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All the King's Men by Robert Penn Warren
Though first published in 1946, this saga of a demagogic southern politician named Willie Stark (modeled after Huey Long of Louisiana) presents a searing portrait of what can happen when populism is corrupted by absolute power. The tale acquires its unique power from the way that the innocent and self-righteous folks, for all their high-minded ideals, become painfully complicit in Willie's machinations. Who can resist the hypnotic spell of this novel?
 

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Race and Reunion by David W. Blight
In a tour de force of historical research and writing, David W. Blight traces the way that the North and South, in the wake of the Civil War, developed clashing visions of what had happened during the conflict. Memory was often swallowed up by myth, especially in a defeated South aching for vindication. For those interested in the controversy over the Confederate monuments, Blight's book furnishes the ideal road map to fathom its complexities.
 

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