You Don't Have to Say You Love Me:  A Memoir
Sherman Alexie, 2017
Little, Brown and Co.
464 pp.
ISBN-13: 9780316270755

A searing, deeply moving memoir about family, love, loss, and forgiveness from the critically acclaimed, bestselling National Book Award-winning author of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.

Family relationships are never simple. But Sherman Alexie's bond with his mother Lillian was more complex than most.

She plunged her family into chaos with a drinking habit, but shed her addiction when it was on the brink of costing her everything. She survived a violent past, but created an elaborate facade to hide the truth. She selflessly cared for strangers, but was often incapable of showering her children with the affection that they so desperately craved.

She wanted a better life for her son, but it was only by leaving her behind that he could hope to achieve it. It's these contradictions that made Lillian Alexie a beautiful, mercurial, abusive, intelligent, complicated, and very human woman.

When she passed away, the incongruities that defined his mother shook Sherman and his remembrance of her. Grappling with the haunting ghosts of the past in the wake of loss, he responded the only way he knew how: he wrote.

The result is a stunning memoir filled with raw, angry, funny, profane, tender memories of a childhood few can imagine, much less survive. An unflinching and unforgettable remembrance, You Don't Have to Say You Love Me is a powerful, deeply felt account of a complicated relationship. (From the publisher.)

Author Bio
Birth—October 7, 1966
Raised—Spokane, Washington, Indian Reservation
Education—B.A., Washington State University
Awards—National Book Award; PEN/Faulkner Award
Currently—lives in Seattle, Washington

Sherman Joseph Alexie, Jr. is an American poet, writer, and filmmaker. Much of his writing draws on his experiences as a Native American with ancestry of several tribes, growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. He lives in Seattle, Washington.

Alexie was born  in 1966 at Sacred Heart Hospital in Spokane, Washington, and spent his childhood on the Spokane Indian Reservation, located west of Spokane. His father, Sherman Joseph Alexie, was a member of the Coeur d'Alene tribe (though a grandfather was of Russian descent). Alexie's mother, Lillian Agnes Cox, was of Colville, Choctaw, Spokane and European American ancestry.

Alexie was born with hydrocephalus, a condition that occurs when there is an abnormally large amount of cerebral fluid in the cranial cavity. He underwent brain surgery when he was only six months old and was not expected to survive or, if he did, would be at high risk of mental disabilities. Alexie's surgery was successful and he survived with no mental damage but had other effects.

His father was an alcoholic who often left the house for days at a time. To support her six children, Alexie's mother Lillian sewed quilts and worked as a clerk at the Wellpinit Trading Post.

Alexie has described his life at the reservation school as challenging because he was constantly teased by other kids. He was nicknamed "The Globe" because his head was larger than usual due to the hydrocephalus. Until the age of seven, Alexie suffered from seizures and bedwetting and had to take strong drugs to control them. Because of his health problems, he was excluded from many of the activities that are rites of passage for young Indian males. However, he excelled academically, reading everything available, including auto repair manuals.

In order to better his education, Alexie decided to leave the reservation and attend high school in Reardan, Washington, 22 miles off the reservation. The only Native American student, he excelled at his studies, became a star player on the basketball team, and was elected class president. He was also a member of the debate team.

His success in high school won him a scholarship in 1985 to Gonzaga University, a Roman Catholic university in Spokane. Originally enrolling in the pre-med program, he found he was squeamish during dissection in his anatomy classes. He switched to law but found that unsuitable, as well. Feeling pressure to succeed and beset with anxieity, he began drinking.

In 1987 Alexie dropped out of Gonzaga and enrolled at Washington State University. He was at a low point in his life when he enrolled in a creative writing course taught by Alex Kuo, a respected poet of Chinese-American background. Kuo served as a mentor to Alexie and gave him Songs of This Earth on Turtle's Back, an anthology by Joseph Bruchac. It was a book, Alexie later said, that changed his life—teaching him "how to connect to non-Native literature in a new way." He remained similarly inspired, however, by Native American poets.

With his new appreciation of poetry, Alexie started work on his first collection, The Business of Fancydancing: Stories and Viviane Poems, published in 1992. With that success, Alexie stopped drinking and quit school just three credits short of a degree. Three years later, however, in 1995 he finally attained his bachelor's from Washington State University.

Short stories
Some of Alexie's best-known works are The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven (1993), a collection of short stories, and Smoke Signals (1998), a film based on that collection, for which he also wrote the screenplay.

His stories have been included in several anthologies, including The Best American Short Stories 2004, edited by Lorrie Moore; and Pushcart Prize XXIX of the Small Presses. Additionally, a number of his pieces have been published in various literary magazines and journals, as well as online publications.

His 2009 collection of short stories and poems, War Dances, won the 2010 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction.

Alexie's first novel, Reservation Blues (1995), revisits some of the characters from The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven. Thomas Builds-the-Fire, Victor Joseph, and Junior Polatkin, who have grown up together on the Spokane Indian reservation, were teenagers in the short story collection. In Reservation Blues they are now adult men in their thirties. The novel received one of the fifteen 1996 American Book Awards.

Indian Killer (1996) is a murder mystery set among Native American adults in contemporary Seattle, where the characters struggle with urban life, mental health, and the knowledge there is a serial killer on the loose.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (2007) is a semi-autobiographical, coming-of-age story that began as a memoir of Alexie's life and family on the Spokane Indian reservation. The novel focuses on a fourteen-year-old Indian named Arnold Spirit and won the 2007 U.S. National Book Award for Young People's Literature. It also won the Odyssey Award as best 2008 audiobook for young people (read by the author himself).

In 1998 Alexie broke barriers by creating the first all-Indian movie, Smoke Signals. Alexie based the screenplay on his short story collection, The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, and characters and events from a number of Alexie's works make appearances in the film.

The Business of Fancydancing, written and directed by Alexie in 2002, explores themes of Indian identity, cultural involvement vs. blood quantum, living on the reservation or off it, and other issues around what makes someone a "real Indian." The title refers to the protagonist's choice to leave the reservation and make his living performing for predominantly white audiences. Much of the dialogue was improvised, based on real events in the actors' lives.

Style and themes
Alexie's poetry, short stories and novels explore themes of despair, poverty, violence, and alcoholism in the lives of Native American people living on and off the reservation. Although exploring grim subjects, the works are leavened by wit and humor.

According to Sarah A. Quirk from the Dictionary of Library Biography, Alexie asks three questions across all of his works:

What does it mean to live as an Indian in this time?
What does it mean to be an Indian man?
What does it mean to live on an Indian reservation

The protagonists in most of his literary works exhibit a constant struggle with themselves and their own sense of powerlessness in white American society.

Alexie’s writings "blends elements of popular culture, Indian spirituality, and the drudgery of poverty-ridden reservation life to create his characters and the world they inhabit," according to Quirk. His work is laced with often startling humor.

In 2005, Alexie became a founding board member of Longhouse Media, a non-profit organization that teaches filmmaking skills to Native American youth. It holds to the belief that media can be used for both cultural expression and social change.

Alexie is married to Diane Tomhave, who is of Hidatsa, Ho-Chunk and Potawatomi heritage. They live in Seattle with their two sons. (Adapted from Wikipoedia. Retrieved 1/31/2016.)

Book Reviews
What would we do without Sherman Alexie? Having a long, abiding fascination with Native America, I’ve always reached for his books. More than any other writer, he has given me an understanding of contemporary Amerindian life…. Now we have his latest book, You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me: a Memoir. I have to say: reading it was painful. There is much suffering — mental illness, sexual abuse, violent deaths, bullying, and alcoholism — within Sherman’s family and on the Spokane Indian Reservation where he grew up. Largely this book tackles his rather maddening relationship with his mother and was written after she passed away in 2015. READ MORE ……
Keddy Ann Outlaw - LitLovers

The overwhelming takeaway from Mr. Alexie's memoir is triumph, that of one writer's ability to overcome hardscrabble roots, medical bad luck and generations of systemic racism — all through an uncommon command of language and metaphor.
James Yeh - New York Times Book Review

These pages are scored by resentment, hurt, guilt, anger, fear, but they are also full of gratitude, admiration, and tenderness.
Priscilla Gillman - Boston Globe

[A] marvel of emotional transparency, a story told with the fewest possible filters by a writer grieving the loss of a complicated mother.… [His lines of poetry] successfully convey the inevitable contradictions that beguile and beleaguer anyone who has ever tried to write honestly about someone they hoped to love, someone they hoped would love them.
Beth Kephart - Chicago Tribune

If candor is Alexie's superpower, accuracy might be his nemesis.… Throughout, Alexie is courageous and unflinching, delivering a worthy and honest eulogy by showing us his mother and himself in full, everything spectacular and everything scarred.
Michael Kleber-Diggs - Minneapolis Star Tribune

He's compulsively readable, a literary writer with the guts of a stand-up comedian.
Jim Higgins - Milwaukee Sentinel Journal

Everything you love about Alexie's writing is here: he still manages to find honest human comedy in the darkness of America's genocidal past and our deeply racist present.… His personality is large and, as he survives each passing trial, it's only getting larger; from his adoring audience's vantage point, Alexie is now a giant.
Paul Constant - Seattle Review of Books

The text is rambling, digressive, and sometimes baggy, with dozens of his poems sprinkled in; it wanders among lucid, conversational prose, bawdy comic turns, and lyrical, incantatory verse. This is a fine homage to the vexed process of growing up,
Publishers Weekly

(Starred review.) [M]emories of a difficult childhood.… Highly recommended for all readers. Alexie's portrayals of family relationships, identity, and grief have the universality of great literature. —Nicholas Graham, Univ. of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Library Journal

(Starred review.) Alexie is a consummate, unnerving and funny storyteller…pouring himself into every molten word. Courageous, anguished, grateful, and hilarious, this is an enlightening and resounding eulogy and self-portrait.… [A]ll will be reaching for this confiding and concussive memoir.

Written in his familiar breezy, conversational, and aphoristic style, the book makes even the darkest personal experiences uplifting and bearable with the author's wit, sarcasm, and humor.… [A] powerful, brutally honest memoir about a mother and the son who loved her.
Kirkus Reviews

Discussion Questions
We'll add publisher questions if and when they're available; in the meantime, please use our LitLovers talking points to help start a discussion for You Don't Have to Say You Love Me … then take off on your own:

1. In writing this memoir, Sherman Alexie told his sister that there would be a lot of blank spaces. "But I like the blank spaces." What do you think he means — why does he like blank spaces? What might they signify for him?

2. Follow-up to Question 1: Alexie also says, "This book is a series of circles, sacred and profane." Again, what do you think he means? What are the circles — and which are sacred and which profane?

3, Alexie takes an entire book, some 400 pages, to talk about his mother. So … in less than 400 pages … how would you describe Lillian? Talk about those traits that are both admirable and not so admirable, or just plain awful. Does she generate sympathy? Did your feelings toward her change during the course of reading the memoir?

4. Follow-up to Questions 3: How did the process of writing this memoir — and grappling with some memories he says are so painful he almost did not include them — affect Alexie's understanding of his mother? Does he find peace by the end? If so, in what way?

5. At times Alexie moves the book's focus away from Lillian and back to his own childhood: his medical emergencies, high school years, mental health problems. Talk about those years. What did you find particularly moving or remarkable about his background?

6. Reviewers make much of the humor in You Don't Have to Say You Love Me. Did it make you laugh as you read it? What in particularly did you find funny.

7. What is the significance of the book's cover photo?

8. The book includes 160 poems. Do you have a favorite? Do you find that the poems illuminate the narrative? If so in what way? Or do you find the poetry distracting? Consider the times that the author broke out of a poem into prose, then back into poetry again. Is there anything in particular that seems to prompt the changes from one mode to the other?

9. What have you learned about life on an Indian Reservation? What insights have you gleaned from this memoir into Native American culture? Did anything especially surprise you, impress you, delight you, anger you, or sadden you?

(Questions by LitLovers. Please feel free to use them, online or off, with attribution. Thanks.)

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A Land Twice Promised:  An Israeli Woman's Quest for Peace
Noa Baum, 2016
340 pp.

Israeli storyteller Noa Baum grew up in Jerusalem in the shadow of the ancestral traumas of the holocaust and ongoing wars. Stories of the past and fear of annihilation in the wars of the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s shaped her perceptions and identity.

In America, she met a Palestinian woman who had grown up under Israeli Occupation, and as they shared memories of war years in Jerusalem, an unlikely friendship blossomed.

A Land Twice Promised delves into the heart of one of the world’s most enduring and complex conflicts. Baum’s deeply personal memoir recounts her journey from girlhood in post­-Holocaust Israel to her adult encounter with “the other.” With honesty, compassion, and humor, she captures the drama of a nation at war and her discovery of humanity in the enemy.

This compelling memoir demonstrates the transformative power of art and challenges each reader to take the first step toward peace. (From the publisher.)

Author Bio
Where—Jerusalem, Israel
Education—B.F.A., Tel Aviv University; M.A.E., New York University
Awards—Parents' Choice Recommended Award; Storytelling World Award
Currently—lives in Washington, D.C.

Born and raised in Jerusalem, Noa Baum is an award-winning storyteller who combines performance art with practical applications of storytelling in business, community and education.

Noa performs and teaches internationally with diverse audiences ranging from The World Bank, US. Defense Department, prestigious universities and congregations, to inner city schools and detention centers. She is a winner of a Parents' Choice Recommended Award and a Storytelling World Award, and a recipient of numerous Individual Artist Awards from Maryland State Arts Council and Arts & Humanities Council of Montgomery County. She has lived in the US since 1990. (From the publisher.)

Book Reviews
In this touching and honest memoir, Baum shares the story of how her search for peace informed her life.… Although not everyone will agree with her leftist political perspective on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Baum's genuine desire to make a difference may well inspire others to do the same.
Publishers Weekly

Impressively well written, organized and presented, A Land Twice Promised: An Israeli Woman's Quest for Peace is a compelling, thoughtful and thought-provoking read.
Midwest Review

The book provokes empathy and insight, and will lead most readers to embrace a view of Israel and the Palestinian conflict that is both complex and compassionate."
Jewish Independent, Canada

Discussion Questions
The following questions have been graciously submitted to LitLovers by Maggie Bailey from Bull Valley, Illinois. Thank you Maggie!

1. Are there parallels you can draw between the Israeli Palestinian conflict and the current political situation in the US?

2. How has the press contributed to the divisiveness in both the US and Israel?

3. Have you ever experienced a friendship like the one between Noa and Jumana, where your perceived differences were so immense that a friendship was unlikely?

4. What role has storytelling played in your life? Are you a storyteller?  Who are the storytellers in your life?

5. The book seems to serve different listed purposes. It is the story of history told from different perspectives.

  • It is the story of an incredible friendship between two women
  • It is the story of a seemingly unending, unresolvable conflict
  • It is the story of how Noa became a storyteller
  • It is the story of one woman’s attempt to begin to bring peace to a troubled land
  • It is the story of the evolution of Noa’s perception of and relationship with her mother

   —How successful was Noa in achieving each of these purposes?

6. Are there traumatic events from your childhood that you believe shaped your political and worldviews?

7. Yaakov, who was killed when he was only twenty-two, is sanctified and idolized my Noa’s mother. How have you reacted when a deceased (from your life) is portrayed as nothing short of perfection? Examples both personal and political, perhaps?

8. “We were never taught to hate them. It is only that they hate us, and what can we do? We have no choice but to defend ourselves.” How has this common attitude affected efforts toward building peace over the last few thousand years?

9. Give some examples from the story of the juxtaposition of the mundane and the elaborate ritual. (e.g. Noa worrying about getting an itch during the 120 seconds of standing during the yearly Holocaust Memorial Day.)

10. Noa began her storytelling career early with the saga of her imaginary brother Yigal, the heroic soldier. Have you (or your kids) ever woven such an elaborate story about an imaginary person?

11. (LitLovers Generic Questions): What are some specific passages that struck you as significant… What was memorable?
12.  Has this book changed your attitude toward Israel? Palestine? In what ways?

13. Can learning each other’s stories actually solve seemingly unsolvable conflicts? How? Consider the following quotations:

  • "An enemy is one whose story we have not heard." —Gene Knudsen-Hoffman
  • "People become the stories they hear and the stories they tell.” —Elie Wiesel
  • “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” —Gandhi.

From Noa Baum: Hard questions remain:

  • Who will control the important town of East Jerusalem, including the old city, which is home to ancient religious sites sacred to Jews, Christians, and Muslims?

  • Will the Palestinians ever be permitted to establish a free state, independent of Israel? What will be its borders?

  • What will happen to Palestinian refugee families, some of whom have now lived in camps for generations? Will they be allowed to return to a Palestinian State? Will any be allowed back into Israel, or will they be compensated economically?

  • What will happen to the Israeli settlements in the occupied territories?

Both Israel and the Palestinian Authority insist that they have offered reasonable compromises, but that the other side will not accept them. Meanwhile, the violence continues. But citizen to citizen exchanges also continues, and the hope for reconciliation and peace is still alive in the hearts of many Israelis and Palestinians.

(Questions developed by Maggie Bailey and offered to LitLovers. Please feel free to use them, online or off, with attribution. Thanks.)

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Sully: My Search for What Really Matters 
Chesley B. Sullenberger, III and Jeffrey Zaslow, 2009
368 pp.

Now a major motion picture from Clint Eastwood, starring Tom Hanks—the inspirational autobiography by one of the most captivating American heroes of our time, Capt. "Sully" Sullenberger—the pilot who miraculously landed a crippled US Airways Flight 1549 in New York’s Hudson River, saving the lives of all 155 passengers and crew.

On January 15, 2009, the world witnessed a remarkable emergency landing when Captain "Sully" Sullenberger skillfully glided US Airways Flight 1549 onto the Hudson River, saving the lives of all 155 passengers and crew.

His cool actions not only averted tragedy but made him a hero and an inspiration worldwide. His story is now a major motion picture from director / producer Clint Eastwood and stars Tom Hanks, Laura Linney and Aaron Eckhart.

Sully's story is one of dedication, hope, and preparedness, revealing the important lessons he learned through his life, in his military service, and in his work as an airline pilot. It reminds us all that, even in these days of conflict, tragedy and uncertainty, there are values still worth fighting for—that life's challenges can be met if we're ready for them. (From the publisher.)

Author Bios
Chester B. "Sully" Sullenberger, III
Birth—January 23, 1951
Where—Denison, Texas, USA
Education—B.A., U.S. Air Academy; M.S., Purdue; M.S., University of Northern Colorado
Currently—lives in the San Francisco Bay Area of California

Chesley Burnett "Sully" Sullenberger III is an American retired airline captain who works as an aviation safety consultant. He was hailed as a national hero in the United States when he successfully executed an emergency water landing of US Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River off Manhattan, New York City, on January 15, 2009, after the aircraft was disabled by striking a flock of Canada geese during its climb out from LaGuardia Airport. All 155 people aboard the aircraft survived and there were no personal injuries.

He is the co-author, with Jeffrey Zaslow, of the New York Times best-seller Highest Duty: My Search for What Really Matters (2009), a memoir of his life and of the events surrounding Flight 1549. His second book is Making a Difference: Stories of Vision and Courage from America's Leaders (2012). He was ranked second in Time's "Top 100 Most Influential Heroes and Icons of 2009," after Michelle Obama.

Chesley Sullenberger was born in Denison, Texas. As a a child, according to his sister, he built model planes and aircraft carriers, and say his high school classmates developed a passion for flying from watching jets based out of Perrin Air Force Base. At 16, Sully learned to fly in an Aeronca 7DC from a private airstrip near his home—training, which he would later say, grounded his aviation career for the rest of his life.

Sullenberger entered to the United States Air Force Academy, where as a freshman, he was selected for a cadet glider program and, by the end of that year, became an instructor pilot. In 1973, his graduation year, he received the Outstanding Cadet in Airmanship award, as the class "top flyer."

Upon graduation, the Air Force immediately sent Sullenberger to Purdue University, where he obtained a Master's in industrial psychology. He later received another Master's, in public administration, at the University of Northern California.

In 1975, Sully earned his USAF Pilot wings. During the next five years—in Arizona, the UK, and Nevada—he served as a fighter pilot, a flight leader, and a training officer. He attained the rank of Captain and worked on his first aircraft accident investigation.

In 1980 he left the military and joined the civilian world where, for the next 30 years, he flew commercial airliners for US Airways. All told, over the span of his military and commercial piloting career, Sully has more than 40 years—clocking in at 20,000 hours—of flying experience. In 2007 he founded his own company, Safety Reliability Methods, Inc. a firm that consults on organizational safety, performance, and reliability.

Sully has also served as a member of investigations of aircraft accidents for both the USAF and National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). He has also been instrumental in developing and implementing the Crew Resource Management course used by US Airways, and he has taught the course to hundreds of airline crew members.

Flight 1549
On January 15, 2009, Sullenberger was piloting an Airbus A320 from New York's LaGuardia Airport to Charlotte, North Carolina, when it struck a large flock of birds, disabling both engines. Unable to return safely to any nearby airport, he landed the plane in Hudson River.

The last to leave the aircraft, Sully made certain everyone had been evacuated before retrieving the maintenance logbook and leaving the plane. All passengers and crews survived uninjured.

Though he became an instant hero, Sullenberger was required to testify in an NTSB investigation. Amid questions as to whether he might have been able to return the plane to LaGuardia, Sully maintained there had been no time to execute the necessary maneuvers, which might have killed all on board as well as many more on the ground. The NTSB ultimately ruled that Sullenberger made the correct decision.

Accolades from every corner of the nation flowed in—a phone call from then President George W. Bush, an invitation to the inauguration of new President Barack Obama, resolutions by both houses of Congress, parades, medals, TV appearances, TV episodes, standing ovations at sports events, honorary memberships, keys to cities, baseball season's first pitch, and even songs.

After 30 years service with US Airways and its predecessor, Sullenberger retired on March 3, 2010. His final flight was US Airways Flight Number 1167 from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to Charlotte, North Carolina, where he was reunited with his co-pilot Jeff Skiles and a half dozen of the passengers on Flight 1549. Sullenberger said that his advocacy for aviation safety and the piloting profession would continue.

Yet before he went, Sullenberger testified before the U.S. House of Representatives that his salary had been cut by 40 percent, and that his pension—like most airline pensions—was terminated and replaced by a "PBGC" guarantee worth only pennies on the dollar. He went on to caution that airlines were under pressure to hire people with less experience."

Their salaries are so low that people with greater experience will not take those jobs. We have some carriers that have hired some pilots with only a few hundred hours of experience.... There’s simply no substitute for experience in terms of aviation safety.

Sullenberger is married to fitness instructor Lorraine "Lorrie" Sullenberger, with whom he has two daughters. The Sullenbergers reside in the San Francisco Bay Area. (From Wikipedia. Retrieved 1/15/2017.)

Jeffrey Zaslow
Birth—October 6, 1958
Where—Broomall, Pennsylvania, USA
Death—February 10, 2012
Where—Warner Twp., Michigan
Education—B.A., Carnegie Mellon University
Awards—Best Columnist Award; Distinguished Column Writing Award

Jeffrey Lloyd Zaslow was an American author and journalist and a columnist for The Wall Street Journal.

Zaslow was widely known as coauthor of best-selling books including The Last Lecture (2008) with Randy Pausch; Highest Duty: My Search for What Really Matters (2009) with Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger; as well as Gabby: A Story of Courage and Hope (2011) with Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly. He was the sole author of numerous books, including Tell Me All About It (1990), The Girls from Ames (2009), and The Magic Room.

Early life
Zaslow was born in 1958 in Broomall, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia, one of the four children of Naomi and Harry Zaslow. His father was a real estate investor. After graduating from Carnegie Mellon University in 1980 with a degree in creative writing, Zaslow began his professional writing career at the Orlando Sentinel.

When he was 29, Zaslow won a competition (with 12,000 applicants) held by the Chicago Sun-Times to replace the Ann Landers advice column. Later, he gained recognition as the for his own advice column called "All That Zazz" at the Wall Street Journal.

He was twice named Best Columnist (in a newspaper with more than 100,000 circulation) by the National Society of Newspaper Columnists as. He also received the Distinguished Column Writing Award from the New York Newspaper Publishers Association. While working at the Sun-Times in Orlando, Zaslow received the Will Rogers Humanitarian Award. He appeared on such television programs as The Tonight Show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, Larry King Live, 60 Minutes, The Today Show and Good Morning America.

Zaslow married Sherry Margolis, a TV news anchor with WJBK television in Detroit, and together lived with their three daughters in West Bloomfield, Michigan.

Zaslow died on February 10, 2012, at age 53 in a car accident in Michigan while on tour for his non-fiction book The Magic Room. Former co-author Chesley Sullenberger was among those who eulogized Zaslow at his funeral on February 13.

Following his death, Zaslow was the subject of a number of written tributes, including an essay by columnist Bob Greene, titled Jeff Zaslow's last lesson, pieces by fellow journalists and by bloggers, posts on the Wall Street Journal remembrance page, and eulogies by family members on the family's remembrance page. (Adapted from Wikipedia. Retrieved 1/15/2017.)

Book Reviews
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Publishers Weekly

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Library Journal

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Kirkus Reviews

Discussion Questions
Use our LitLovers Book Club Resources; they can help with discussions for any book:

How to Discuss a Book (helpful discussion tips)
Generic Discussion Questions—Fiction and Nonfiction
Read-Think-Talk (a guided reading chart)

(We'll add specific questions if and when they're made available by the publisher.)

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Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI
David Grann, 2017
Knopf Doubleday
352 pp.

From best-selling author of The Lost City of Z, a twisting, haunting true-life murder mystery about one of the most monstrous crimes in American history
In the 1920s, the richest people per capita in the world were members of the Osage Indian Nation in Oklahoma. After oil was discovered beneath their land, the Osage rode in chauffeured automobiles, built mansions, and sent their children to study in Europe.

Then, one by one, they began to be killed off. One Osage woman, Mollie Burkhart, watched as her family was murdered. Her older sister was shot. Her mother was then slowly poisoned. And it was just the beginning, as more Osage began to die under mysterious circumstances.

In this last remnant of the Wild West—where oilmen like J. P. Getty made their fortunes and where desperadoes such as Al Spencer, “the Phantom Terror,” roamed — virtually anyone who dared to investigate the killings were themselves murdered. As the death toll surpassed more than twenty-four Osage, the newly created F.B.I. took up the case, in what became one of the organization’s first major homicide investigations.

But the bureau was then notoriously corrupt and initially bungled the case. Eventually the young director, J. Edgar Hoover, turned to a former Texas Ranger named Tom White to try unravel the mystery. White put together an undercover team, including one of the only Native American agents in the bureau. They infiltrated the region, struggling to adopt the latest modern techniques of detection. Together with the Osage they began to expose one of the most sinister conspiracies in American history.

In Killers of the Flower Moon, David Grann revisits a shocking series of crimes in which dozens of people were murdered in cold blood. The book is a masterpiece of narrative nonfiction, as each step in the investigation reveals a series of sinister secrets and reversals.

But more than that, it is a searing indictment of the callousness and prejudice toward Native Americans that allowed the murderers to operate with impunity for so long. Killers of the Flower Moon is utterly riveting, but also emotionally devastating. (From the publisher.)

Author Bio 
Birth—March 10, 1967
Where—New York, New York, USA
Education—B.A., Connecticut College; M.A., Tufts University; M.A., Boston University
Currently—lives in New York, New York

David Grann is a staff writer at The New Yorker. Grann's first book, The Lost City of Z, was a New York Times bestseller and has been translated into more than twenty-five languages. Shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize, England's most prestigious nonfiction award, The Lost City of Z was chosen as one of the best books of 2009 by countless newspapers and magazines, including the New York Times, Washington Post, Entertainment Weekly, Bloomberg, Publisher's Weekly, and Christian Science Monitor. The book was adapted to film in 2016.

Killers of the Flower Moon, about the murder of the Osage Indians during the 1920s and the birth of the modern F.B.I. under J. Edgar Hoover.

At The New Yorker, Grann has written about everything from the mysterious death of the world's greatest Sherlock Holmes expert to the hunt for the giant squid, from the perilous maze of water tunnels under New York to a Polish writer who may have left clues to a real murder in his postmodern novel. Grann is also author of a 2010 collection of stories, The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession.

Grann’s stories have also appeared in The Best American Crime Writing (2004, 2005, and 2009), The Best American Sports Writing (2003 and 2006) and The Best American Nonrequired Reading (2009). As a finalist for the Michael Kelly award for the “fearless pursuit and expression of truth,” Grann has also written for the New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, Washington Post, Boston Globe, Wall Street Journal, Weekly Standard, and New Republic.

Before joining The New Yorker in 2003, Grann was a senior editor at The New Republic, and, from 1995 until 1996, the executive editor of the newspaper The Hill. He holds master’s degrees in international relations from the Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy as well as in creative writing from Boston University. After graduating from Connecticut College in 1989, he received a Thomas Watson Fellowship and did research in Mexico, where he began his career in journalism. He currently lives in New York with his wife and two children. (From the author's website.)

Book Reviews
[Killers of the Flower Moon]…is close to impeccable. It's confident, fluid in its dynamics, light on its feet…the crime story it tells is appalling, and stocked with authentic heroes and villains. It will make you cringe at man's inhumanity to man. About America's native people, Saul Bellow wrote in a 1957 essay, "They have left their bones, their flints and pots, their place names and tribal names and little besides except a stain, seldom vivid, on the consciousness of their white successors." The best thing about Grann's book is that it stares, hard, at that stain, and makes it vivid indeed.
Dwight Garner - New York Times

A master of the detective form…Killers is something rather deep and not easily forgotten.
Wall St. Journal

A shocking whodunit…What more could fans of true-crime thrillers ask?
USA Today

A marvel of detective-like research and narrative verve.
Financial Times


Best book of the year, so far.
Entertainment Weekly

(Starred review.) Grann burnishes his reputation as a brilliant storyteller in this gripping true-crime narrative.… [He] demonstrates how the Osage Murders inquiry helped Hoover to make the case for a “national, more professional, scientifically skilled” police force.
Publishers Weekly

(Starred review.) A spellbinding book about the largest serial murder investigation you've never heard of, which will be enjoyed by fans of the Old West as well as true crime aficionados. —Deirdre Bray Root, MidPointe Lib. Syst., OH
Library Journal

(Starred review.) Grann employs you-are-there narrative effects to set readers right in the action, and he relays the humanity, evil, and heroism of the people involved. His riveting reckoning of a devastating episode in American history deservedly captivates. —Annie Bostrom

(Starred review.) This page-turner surges forward with the pacing of a true-crime thriller, elevated by Grann's crisp and evocative prose and enhanced by dozens of period photographs. Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.
Kirkus Reviews

Discussion Questions
We'll add publisher questions if and when they're available; in the meantime, use our LitLovers talking points to help start a discussion … then take off on your own:

1. Trace the "path" by which the Osage Indians eventually landed on the swatch of land in what would become the state of Oklahoma. Talk about their treatment at the hands of the U.S. government and others over the years. What angered or shocked you most?

2. Describe the early days of the Bureau of Investigation, its founding under Theodore Roosevelt, its original purpose, structure and operation, as well as its corruption, ineptness and bungled investigation of the Osage murders.

3. What made young J. Edgar Hoover an unlikely choice to head the Bureau of Investigation? What was his vision for the bureau—why, for instance, a nationalized police force rather than the existing patchwork structure?

4.  How would you describe Tom White? Talk about how he approached the investigation into the Osage murders? When he solved the crime, were you surprised by the identity of the mastermind? Or had you figured it out along the way.

5. Grann writes that "history is a merciless judge." What does he mean by that?

6. Talk about the last 70 pages of the book, in which Grann writes about working with current tribal members to uncover an even deeper conspiracy. By the book's end, what were your feelings about the Osage nation, its history, and its people?

7. What is the significance of the book's title?

8. Does this story have relevance to current events? Are there parallels regarding the Standing Rock Lakota nation and the Keystone pipeline?

(Questions by LitLovers. Please feel free to use them, online or off, with attribution. Thanks.)

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The Lost City of the Monkey God:  A True Story
Douglas Preston, 2017
Grand Central Publishing
336 pp.
ISBN-13: 9781455540006

A five-hundred-year-old legend. An ancient curse. A stunning medical mystery. And a pioneering journey into the unknown heart of the world's densest jungle.

Since the days of conquistador Hernan Cortes, rumors have circulated about a lost city of immense wealth hidden somewhere in the Honduran interior, called the White City or the Lost City of the Monkey God.

Indigenous tribes speak of ancestors who fled there to escape the Spanish invaders, and they warn that anyone who enters this sacred city will fall ill and die.

In 1940, swashbuckling journalist Theodore Morde returned from the rainforest with hundreds of artifacts and an electrifying story of having found the Lost City of the Monkey God-but then committed suicide without revealing its location.

Three quarters of a century later, bestselling author Doug Preston joined a team of scientists on a groundbreaking new quest. In 2012 he climbed aboard a rickety, single-engine plane carrying the machine that would change everything: lidar, a highly advanced, classified technology that could map the terrain under the densest rainforest canopy.

In an unexplored valley ringed by steep mountains, that flight revealed the unmistakable image of a sprawling metropolis, tantalizing evidence of not just an undiscovered city but an enigmatic, lost civilization.

Venturing into this raw, treacherous, but breathtakingly beautiful wilderness to confirm the discovery, Preston and the team battled torrential rains, quickmud, disease-carrying insects, jaguars, and deadly snakes. But it wasn't until they returned that tragedy struck: Preston and others found they had contracted in the ruins a horrifying, sometimes lethal—and incurable—disease.

Suspenseful and shocking, filled with colorful history, hair-raising adventure, and dramatic twists of fortune, The Lost City of the Monkey God is the absolutely true, eyewitness account of one of the great discoveries of the twenty-first century. (From the publisher.)

Author Bio
Birth—May 20, 1956
Where—Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
Education—B.A., Pomona College
Currently—lives in New Mexico and Maine

Douglas Preston was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1956, and grew up in the deadly boring suburb of Wellesley. Following a distinguished matriculation at a private nursery school—he was almost immediately expelled—he attended public schools and the Cambridge School of Weston.

Notable events in his early life included the loss of a fingertip at the age of three to a bicycle; the loss of his two front teeth to his brother Richard's fist; and various broken bones, also incurred in dust-ups with Richard. (Richard went on to write The Hot Zone and The Cobra Event, which tells you all you need to know about what it was like to grow up with him as a brother.)

As they grew up, Doug, Richard, and their little brother David roamed the quiet streets of Wellesley, terrorizing the natives with home-made rockets and incendiary devices mail-ordered from the backs of comic books or concocted from chemistry sets.

Writing career
After unaccountably being rejected by Stanford University (a pox on it), Preston attended Pomona College in Claremont, California, where he studied mathematics, biology, physics, anthropology, and geology, before settling down to English literature.

After graduating, Preston began his career at the American Museum of Natural History in New York as an editor, writer, and manager of publications. Preston also taught nonfiction writing at Princeton University.

His eight-year stint at the Museum resulted in the non-fiction book, Dinosaurs in the Attic, edited by a rising young star at St. Martin's Press, Lincoln Child. During this period, Preston gave Child a midnight tour of the museum, and in the darkened Hall of Late Dinosaurs, under a looming T. Rex, Child turned to Preston and said: "This would make the perfect setting for a thriller!" That thriller would, of course, be Relic.

In 1986, Preston piled everything he owned into the back of a Subaru and moved from New York City to Santa Fe to write full time, following the advice of S. J. Perelman that "the dubious privilege of a freelance writer is he's given the freedom to starve anywhere." After the requisite period of penury, Preston achieved a small success with the publication of Cities of Gold, a nonfiction book about Coronado's search for the legendary Seven Cities of Cibola.

To research the book, Preston and the photographer Walter W. Nelson retraced on horseback 1,000 miles of Coronado's route across Arizona and New Mexico, packing their supplies and sleeping under the stars—and nearly killing themselves in the process. Since then he has published other nonfiction books on the history of the American Southwest.

In the early 1990s Preston and Child teamed up to write suspense novels; Relic was the first, made into a movie by Paramount Pictures. In Relic they introduced one of the most celebrated fictional detectives of modern times, Special Agent A.X.L. Pendergast. Relic has been followed by more than a dozen other books in the Pendergast series, including The Cabinet of Curiosities, Blue Labyrinth and The Obsidian Chamber.

Their last fifteen novels in a row have been New York Times best-sellers, including several reaching the #1 position. The Cabinet of Curiosities and the other Pendergast novels are currently being developed into a television series called PENDERGAST, by legendary producer Gale Anne Hurd ("The Terminator," "Aliens," "The Walking Dead.")

Preston has also continued a career in journalism. He writes about archaeology, history and paleontology for the New Yorker magazine, as well as for Smithsonian, National Geographic, Harper's and the Atlantic. In the course of his journalistic profession Preston has explored lost temples in the jungles of Cambodia, been the first to enter a tomb in the Valley of the Kings in Egypt, and ridden on horseback across thousands of miles of the American Southwest-which earned him membership in the elite "Long Riders Guild."

The Monster of Florence and the Amanda Knox case
In the year 2000, Preston moved with his family to Florence, Italy, to write a murder mystery set in Tuscany. Instead of writing the novel, he became fascinated by the story of a serial killer named il Mostro di Firenze, the Monster of Florence. He teamed up with an Italian journalist, Mario Spezi, who was an expert on the case.

In 2008 they published a nonfiction book, The Monster of Florence, which was a huge bestseller, spending four months on the New York Times list. The book won journalism awards in both Italy and the United States. It is currently under development as a film.

The same Italian prosecutor who charged Preston with crimes in the Monster case, Giuliano Mignini, was the prosecutor who accused Amanda Knox of murder in 2007 in Perugia. Preston became one of Knox's defenders. In 2009, Preston argued on 48 Hours on CBS that the case against Knox was "based on lies, superstition, and crazy conspiracy theories." Preston went on to defend Knox (as well as to explain the Italian legal system), appearing on a number of TV shows, including the Today Show, Anderson Cooper 360°, and The Kelly File on Fox. He also wrote about the case in a Kindle Single, "Trial by Fury: Internet Savagery and the Amada Knox Case" and in "The Forgotten Killer: Rudy Guede and the Murder of Meredith Kercher."

The Lost City of the Monkey God
Preston's most recent nonfiction book, The Lost City of the Monkey God, published in 2017, tells the true story of the discovery of an ancient, Pre-Columbian city in an unexplored valley deep in the Mosquitia Mountains of Honduras.

First USO author tour into a war zone
In 2010, Preston participated in the first USO tour sponsored by the International Thriller Writers organization, along with authors David Morrell, Steve Berry, Andy Harp, and James Rollins. After visiting with military personnel and wounded soldiers at National Navy Medical Center and Walter Reed Army Medical Center, the group spent a week in Iraq, meeting with soldiers and signing books, marking the first time in the USO's 69-year history that authors had visited a combat zone.

Authors United
In 2014, Preston founded the organization Authors United. During a contract dispute between Amazon and the publisher Hachette, Amazon tried to put pressure on Hachette and other publishers by delaying shipment, blocking availability and eliminating discounts on 8,000 books, causing severe financial harm to 3,000 authors.

Preston garnered the support of like-minded authors, including many Nobel Laureates and Pulitzer Prize winners, as well as hundreds of midlist, debut, and struggling young authors, who signed an open letter protesting Amazon's unfair negotiating tactics. Since that time, Authors United, working with the American Booksellers Association, the Authors Guild and the New American Foundation, have petitioned the Justice Department to investigate Amazon's growing monopoly in the book world and the ways that company has used its dominance to the harm of authors, bookstores, and publishers.

Other activities
In addition to Authors United, Preston was one of the early founders of International Thriller Writers and served as its Co-President. He serves on the board of the Authors Guild and the Authors Guild Foundation. He is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. In 2011, Pomona College conferred on Preston the degree of Doctor of Letters, honoris causa. He is an avid skier, mountain climber, and hiker.

He counts in his ancestry the poet Emily Dickinson, the early sexologist Robert Latou Dickinson, and the infamous murderer and opium addict Amasa Greenough. He divides his time between New Mexico and Maine. (From the author's website.)

Book Reviews
A well-documented and engaging read...The author's narrative is rife with jungle derring-do and the myriad dangers of the chase.
USA Today

Deadly snakes, flesh-eating parasites, and some of the most forbidding jungle terrain on earth were not enough to deter Douglas Preston from a great story.
Boston Globe

Replete with informative archaeology lessons and colorful anecdotes about the challenges Elkins' crew faced during the expedition, including torrential rains and encounters with deadly snakes, Preston's uncommon travelogue is as captivating as any of his more fanciful fictional thrillers.

(Starred review.) [A]nother perilous Preston...well-known for two things: going out and doing things that would get most people killed and turning up ways to get killed.... A story that moves from thrilling to sobering, fascinating to downright scary.
Kirkus Reviews

Discussion Questions
Use our LitLovers Book Club Resources; they can help with discussions for any book:

How to Discuss a Book (helpful discussion tips)
Generic Discussion Questions—Fiction and Nonfiction
Read-Think-Talk (a guided reading chart)

(We'll add specific questions if and when they're made available by the publisher.)

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