New Biographies and Memoirs for Everyone

Looking to get lost in someone else’s life and times this summer? Take the road less traveled and check out some of the awesome new biographies and memoirs at KRL.

Reminiscent of some of the “back to the land” hippies of the 1960s, Henry David Thoreau was the 19th century’s poster boy for social rebellion and political malcontent. Desiring to connect more deeply with nature as well as understand the culture of the Native Americans who were being pushed aside, he withdrew to live simply and plainly. Learn how Thoreau became the early symbol of environmentalism in The Adventures of Henry Thoreau; A Young Man’s Unlikely Path to Walden Pond by Michael Sims.

Thoreau’s cabin in the woods was 150 square feet and author Dee Williams cabin (The Big Tiny) is only 84 square feet but both shared a desire to pare down their lives into utter simplicity. Williams was prompted by a cardiac event that propelled her to build her own home and to learn to be at home in the world. She pared her life down to two plates, three spoons, two pairs of pants, a dress and wool skivvies. She lives entirely off the grid except for a propane heater. If you have ever wondered about downsizing, here’s the inspiration for you.

And now for two very different books about real life spies: The Good Spy: The Life and Death of Robert Ames by Kai Bird is the story of a CIA operative who was a Middle East expert and sympathetic to the Palestinians’ quest for statehood. Bird makes the case that a real chance for a settlement of this conflict was lost when Ames was killed by a bomb that exploded outside of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut in 1983.

A Very Principled Boy: The Life of Duncan Lee, Red Spy and Cold Warrior by Mark A. Bradley is a tale of a brilliant young man from a famous family who became a covert member of the Communist Party while a Rhodes Scholar studying at Oxford. Named a Soviet mole in 1945, J. Edgar Hoover spent years trying to prove Lee’s treason. It’s a fascinating story of a naïve young man who thought he was acting on principle and how his life was destroyed in the process.

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