Also of interest…
Four legends in the making
The Indian World of George Washington
by Colin G. Calloway (Oxford, $35)
Here’s a “refreshingly original” angle on America’s first president, said Peter Cozzens in The Wall Street Journal. Focusing initially on his subject’s early career as a bumbling wilderness commander and land speculator, historian Colin Calloway argues that George Washington’s vision for America was shaped by Indians and Indian land. He judges the young Virginian to have been “out of his depth,” but this is a complex, cradle-to-grave story, and an essential addition to the literature on the Founders’ era.
Picasso and the Painting That Shocked the World
by Miles J. Unger (Simon & Schuster, $32.50)
Pablo Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon was so revolutionary, “it rattled the artist himself,” said Alexander Kafka in The Washington Post. In this “psychologically rich” account of how the young striver came to paint that bold 1907 canvas, which spawned cubism and redirected modernism, critic Miles Unger pulls us into Picasso’s Paris studio and restless mind. The 25-year-old “wanted to be like no one else,” then proved he was.
by Patrick Parr (Chicago Review, $27)
We do Martin Luther King Jr. no favors by sentimentalizing him, said Heath Carter in The Christian Century. This book captures King at 19, when he entered a seminary outside Philadelphia. He fell in love with a white woman there, and also committed plagiarism. Yet “most illuminating” is the book’s treatment of King’s intellectual development. King immersed himself in the writings of Gandhi, Reinhold Niebuhr, and Karl Marx, emerging as a more mature, more radical thinker.
A View of the Empire at Sunset
by Caryl Phillips (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $27)
It’s easy to understand why Caryl Phillips chose to write a novel about Jean Rhys, said Heller McAlpin in NPR.org. Rhys, born in Dominica and raised in early-20th-century England, was an “intriguingly complex” outsider saved from her own self-destructive behavior by her writing. Phillips shortchanges writing’s role in Rhys’ life, but he wisely focuses on her life long before she wrote Wide Sargasso Sea, and “there’s beauty aplenty in Phillips’ supple, often sensuous prose.”