Weekly Staff Picks!

Our favorite new books, in stores today!

Lucky 666: the Impossible Mission by Bob Drury & Tom Clavin

It is 1942, the Japanese war machine has rolled up nearly all of the Pacific Theater, and American forces are clinging to what little unconquered territory remains. While US Marines claw their way across Guadalcanal, small contingents of US Army Airmen make their way to the lonely, embattled Allied airbase on Papua New Guinea. Their mission: to defend Australia from invasion, harass Japanese supply lines, fly perilous bombing missions over enemy-held strongholds, and make reconnaissance runs to provide intelligence for America’s nascent island-hopping campaign.

Among these men are the pilot Captain Jay Zeamer and the bombardier Sergeant Joseph Raymond Sarnoski, whose swashbuckling reputations precede them. Zeamer, who cannot convince his superiors to give him his own plane, teams up with Sarnoski to recruit a crew of fellow misfits to rebuild a dilapidated B-17 bomber from spare parts in the base’s junkyard. They christen the planeOld 666, naming it from its tail identification numbers. In June 1943, Zeamer and Sarnoski and their crew volunteer for a 1200-mile suicide mission into the heart of the Japanese Empire that may well change the course of the war—but which only one of the two friends will survive.

In Lucky 666, Drury and Clavin bring to vivid life one of the last great untold stories of World War II. Featuring personal letters, diaries, US Army Air Force after-action reports, even the translated Japanese Imperial Air Force’s official account of the longest dogfight in history, Lucky 666 is a tale of friendship, heroism, and sacrifice set against the horrific backdrop of vicious aerial warfare, wounded crewmates, and a white-knuckle emergency landing in the jungles of New Guinea—a must-read for anyone who loves pulse-pounding narrative nonfiction. Buy Now

the Boat Rocker by Ha Jin

From the universally admired, award-winning author of Waiting and War Trash: an urgent, timely novel that follows an aspiring author, an outrageous book idea, and a lone journalist's dogged quest for truth in the Internet age.

New York, 2005. Chinese expatriate Feng Danlin is a fiercely principled reporter at a small news agency that produces a website read by Chinese all over the world. Danlin's explosive exposés have made him legendary among readers—and feared by Communist officials. But his newest assignment may be his undoing: investigating his ex-wife, Yan Haili, an unscrupulous novelist who has willingly become a pawn of the Chinese government in order to realize her dreams of literary stardom.

Haili's scheme infuriates Danlin both morally and personally--he will do whatever it takes to expose her as a fraud. But in outing Haili, he is also provoking her powerful political allies, and he will need to draw on all of his journalistic cunning to come out of this investigation with his career—and his life—still intact. A brilliant, darkly funny story of corruption, integrity, and the power of the pen, The Boat Rocker is a tour de force. Buy Now

Al Capone his Life, Legacy and Legend by Deidre Bair

From a National Book Award-winning biographer, the first complete life of legendary gangster Al Capone to be produced with the cooperation of his family, who provided the author with exclusive access to personal testimony and archival documents.

Born in 1899 in Brooklyn, New York, to poor, Italian immigrant parents, Al Capone went on to become the most infamous gangster in American history. In 1925, during the height of Prohibition, Capone's multi-million-dollar Chicago bootlegging, prostitution, and gambling operation dominated the organized-crime scene. His competition with rival gangs was brutally violent, a long-running war that crested with the shocking St. Valentine's Day Massacre of 1929. Through it all, and despite the best efforts of law enforcement and the media elite, Capone remained above the fray. Federal income-tax evasion was the strongest charge that could be made to stick, and in 1931 he was sentenced to eleven years in federal prison. After serving six-and-a-half years, mostly in Alcatraz, a severely impaired Capone, badly damaged by neurosyphillis, was released to live out his final years with his family in Miami. From his heyday to the present moment, Al Capone's life has gripped the public imagination, and his gangster persona has been immortalized in the countless movies and books inspired by his exploits.

But who was the man behind the legend? Capone loved to tell tall tales that perpetuated his mystique; newspapers loved him and frequently embellished or fabricated stories about him to sell copies. While some remember him as fundamentally kind and good, others speak of how frightening he was, a vicious, cold-blooded killer. Was Al really such a quotable wit? Did he really shower the poor with hundred-dollar bills and silver dollars from the window of his bulletproof car? Did he really keep a bevy of mistresses ensconced in his hotel headquarters in Chicago? Writing with exclusive access to Capone's descendants, Deirdre Bair finally gets at the truth behind this eternally fascinating man, who was equal parts charismatic mobster, doting father, and calculating monster.
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