Louis Zamperini, Inspiration For “Unbroken” Has Died


World War II hero Louis Zamperini has died at age 97. A statement released included a message from his family: “Having overcome insurmountable odds at every turn in his life, Olympic runner and World War II hero Louis Zamperini had never broken down from a challenge. His indomitable courage and fighting spirit were never more apparent than in these last days.”

Angelina Jolie, who directed the 2014 film about his life based on the best-selling book “Unbroken” by Laura Hillenbrand, immediately expressed her condolences. “It is a loss impossible to describe. We are all so grateful for how enriched our lives are for having known him,” she said.

Born in January 1917 in Olean, N.Y. to Italian immigrant parents, Zamperini and his family moved to Torrance, Calif., when he was a child. He was a member of the 1936 U.S. Olympic track team in Berlin running the 5,000 meters. At 19, he was the youngest American qualifier ever in that event.  In 1941, he enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Force and was later deployed to the Pacific as a bombardier on a B-24 Liberator bomber. The story of “Unbroken,” is set in 1943, and follows Zamperini as his Air Force plane crashes in the Pacific. He and two others survived without food and water for 47 days before washing ashore on a Japanese island behind enemy lines, where he was held as a prisoner of war for two years.

Zamperini was first declared missing at sea and then killed in action, but after the war was over he returned to his family in America with a hero’s welcome. On his 81st birthday, in January 1988, the former athlete returned to Japan and ran a leg in the Olympic Torch relay for the Winter Olympics in Nagano.

Zamperini recalled that Hillenbrand, in researching the book, asked to interview his friends from college and the Army. “And now after the book was finished all of my college buddies are dead, all of my war buddies are dead. It’s sad to realize that you’ve lost all your friends,” he said. “But I think I made up for it. I made a new friend — Angelina Jolie. And the gal really loves me, she hugs me and kisses me, so I can’t complain.”

China Refuses To Sell Hillary Clinton’s “Hard Choices”


Hillary Clinton’s new book will not be sold in mainland China. Publishers there have declined to purchase translation rights to Hard Choices. The book will not be sold there in English either. One of China’s largest import agencies will not allow distribution of an English-language edition.

The day after Clinton’s book hit stores in the U.S., executives at Simon & Schuster learned the title would not be approved for sale in China. Hard Choices has been received well in nearly every major international market, except for China. In total, 16 other countries have purchased foreign rights to the book.
Simon & Schuster president Jonathan Karp said China’s response to Clinton’s book amounts to an “effective ban” by the country. “It’s outrageous and unfortunate,” Karp said. “And it’s a pretty clear indication of the low level of intellectual freedom in China right now.”


Clinton’s book, a 656-page retelling of her tenure at as secretary of state, is critical of the Chinese government. She details its censorship practices and characterizes the country as “full of contradictions” and the “epicenter of the antidemocratic movement in Asia.” The book also includes several passages about her dealings with Chinese senior officials. In one section, Clinton references a discussion with Dai Bingguo, China’s state councilor, about the U.S. “pivot strategy” in Asia. “Why don’t you ‘pivot’ out of here?” Dai is quoted as saying. Clinton dedicates a full chapter to her efforts on behalf of Chen Guangcheng, the blind Chinese dissident and civil rights activist who sought asylum in the U.S. Another chapter focuses on democratization in Myanmar, where China has political and economic interests, and on Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s opposition leader. Clinton also revisits her 1995 address to the UN’s Conference on Women in Beijing, where, she writes, she “felt the heavy hand of Chinese censorship when the government blocked the broadcast of my speech.”

The Chinese edition of Clinton’s first memoir, Living History, was significantly altered in 2003 without approval, causing Simon & Schuster to pull the book from circulation after a first printing of 200,000 copies. In September 2003, Simon & Schuster discovered the translated edition had altered passages about the human rights activist Harry Wu and removed references to the Tiananmen Square protests.

An additional printing of the book had been planned in China — it had become a best-seller there immediately — but Simon & Schuster withdrew the rights.

Former president Bill Clinton also had problems with his 2004 memoir, My Life. Bootleg translations, widely circulated throughout bookstores in China, included fabricated passages about the degree to which Chinese innovations had “left us in the dust.” In one pirated edition, Clinton tells his wife to call him by his nickname, “Big Watermelon.” In another, the book’s first sentence is re-written to read, “The town of Hope, where I was born, has very good feng shui.”

Social Injustice ~ Show July 19 and 20

“The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap” by Matt Taibbi
“Capital in the Twenty First Century” by Thomas Piketty
“Sons of Wichita: How the Koch Brothers Became America’s Most Powerful and Private Dynasty” by Daniel Schulman
“Redeeming the Dream: The Case for Marriage Equality” by David Boies and Theodore Olson
“The Zhivago Affair: The Kremlin, the CIA and the Battle Over a Forbidden Book” by Peter Finn and Petra Couvee
“The Bill of the Century: The Epic Battle for the Civil Rights Act” by Clay Risen
“Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys and the Dawn of a New America” by Gilbert King
David Boies and Theodore Olson, Authors of “Redeeming the Dream: The Case for Marriage Equality”
Though we are a nation dedicated to “the proposition that all men are created equal,” history has shown otherwise. Elaine previews new titles on social injustice, and interviews David Boies and Ted Olson, the lawyers behind the overturning of California’s Proposition 8.

Special Edition of “The Importance of Being Earnest” Sold at Auction


An edition of “The Importance Of Being Earnest” given by Oscar Wilde to the governor of the prison in which he was held has been sold for £55,000. Wilde sent the book, one of a run of 100 special copies, to Major James Nelson, governor of Reading Gaol during the time of his incarceration for gross indecency. Nelson had allowed his famous prisoner access to books. The edition was inscribed: ”To Major Nelson: from the author. A trivial recognition of a great and noble kindness. Feb, 99.”

Wilde was found guilty in May 1895 and transferred to Reading in November. By July of the following year, Major Ingram had taken over and allowed Wilde to not only read, but to begin writing once more. He also gave him back the manuscript to “De Profundis” on his release which ordinarily would have been retained by the prison. Following his release in May 1897, Wilde wrote “The Ballad Of Reading Gaol” which was published the following year.



Books on Travelling ~ Show July 12 and 13

“Carsick” by John Waters
“Obsessive Compulsive Cycling Disorder” by Dave Barter
“The Map Thief” by Michael Blanding
“Where the West Ends” by Michael Totten
“Love With a Chance of Drowning” by Torre DeRoche
“Crossing the Heart of Africa” by Julian Smith
“Walking Home” by Simon Armitage
Brian Benson, Author of “Going Somewhere: A Bicycle Journey Across America”
There’s nothing like travel to recharge your spirit and re-energize your soul. Elaine helps you hit the road with travel books that are both destination based and activity based.

Judy Blume Coming Out With New Adult Novel


Judy Blume’s first novel for adults since 1998’s “Summer Sisters” will be released in summer 2015.

The book is yet to be titled, and plot details are sparse. In speaking about the novel, her editor commented, “It’s pure Judy Blume, writing about family and about friendships, about love, about betrayal.” Ms. Blume said, “I’m both thrilled and terrified, my usual feelings at this point. I’ll be hiding out this summer revising, my favorite part of the process.”

Mary Higgins Clark and Alafair Burke To Collaborate


Mary Higgins Clark and Alafair Burke have signed up to collaborate on a new novel, which will revisit characters and plot lines introduced in Clark’s bestselling I’ve Got You Under My Skin. The collaboration, The Cinderella Murder, is slated for a November 2014 publication and marks the first time Clark has written with an outside author.

Alafair Burke has written 10 novels, including the thrillers If You Were Here and most recently, All Day and a Night. The daughter of another Simon & Schuster author, James Lee Burke, Burke is also a former prosecutor who currently teaches criminal law at Hofstra University in New York.