“Gilded Lives, Fatal Voyage,” by Hugh Brewster, is the latest in an endless line of Titanic chronicles. Only this one takes a unique twist on the doomed ship and its passengers. Brewster describes the lives, fortunes and fates of all of the upper-crust passengers on the ship. It really was a millionaire’s cruise with several of the richest people in America on board. The author tells who they are, how they got so stinking rich, what they had for their last meals on the ship and what they wore as they either dove into a lifeboat or sank beneath the cold waters of the North Atlantic.
And the local angle will keep you flipping through to find the wealthy Ryerson family from Cooperstown. Emily survived. Arthur went down with the ship.
“Chocolate Wars” is an absorbing look at the infancy of the giant chocolate companies and their struggles to remain on top. From the earliest days in England when 4,000 Quakers ruled the chocolate business to the more-recent head-on collisions with such American giants as Forrest Mars and Milton Hershey, this book tells a sweet and intense story of the world’s favorite treat, chocolate. And the author has a stake in the way this book eventually comes out, too. Her name is Deborah Cadbury. Yes, those Cadburys!
Last but not least, a book that I call the best read of 2013 (so far). Pulitzer Prize author Sheri Fink offers us a literary wonder in “Five Days at Memorial.” This exhaustive look at what happened during a five-day period at a marooned city hospital in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina is hard to put down. And hard to read. Grim, dark, sad, tense and utterly mesmerizing, it reveals the honor, dignity and valor of nurses and doctors left on their own for almost a week in a hospital filled with critically ill patients, no electricity, no toilets, and no help coming to save them. You’ll never look at a nurse the same way after reading this terrific book.