What should you read this weekend? USA TODAY’s picks for book lovers include “Indianapolis,” a history of a World War II naval disaster, and a new historical novel set in czarist Russia.
“Indianapolis” by Lynn Vincent and Sara Vladic; Simon & Schuster, 448 pp.; nonfiction
As sea stories go, few are more gripping than the sinking of the heavy U.S. cruiser Indianapolis and the loss of about 880 American men in the closing days of World War II.
In “Indianapolis,” writer Lynn Vincent and historian Sara Vladic go where past books on the subject haven’t, to the full story behind the decades-long movement to clear the captain’s besmirched name.
Until now, books on the Indianapolis have followed a three-box narrative – events leading up to the July 30, 1945, Japanese torpedo attack in the Philippine Sea; the struggle to stay alive at sea by about 880 shipwrecked crewmen (about 300 went down with the ship, and only 317 survived the aftermath); and the subsequent court proceeding.
Now comes a fourth element: the unlikely coalition that set out to clear the name of Capt. Charles McVay, who was found to have endangered his ship by failing to require that it take a zigzag course to confound enemy submarines.
USA TODAY says ★★★½ out of four. “An account that stands out through its crisp writing and superb research. … ‘Indianapolis’ is sure to hold its own for a long time.”
“The Romanov Empress: A Novel of Tsarina Maria Feodorovna” by C.W. Gortner; Ballantine, 415 pp.; fiction
Whisks the reader from the stately splendor of the Russian court in the late 1860s to its tumultuous end with the 1917 Bolshevik revolution, as seen through the eyes of the Danish princess who married Alexander III of Russia at age 19.
USA TODAY says ★★★. “Reads like a historical soap opera … blessed with a memorable cast, especially its leading lady.”
“The Brink: President Reagan and the Nuclear War Scare of 1983” by Marc Ambinder; Simon & Schuster, 380 pp.; nonfiction
This detailed account of a nuclear holocaust that never happened explores the tensions between the Soviet Union and the U.S. during the early years of the Reagan administration, before the president found a negotiating partner in reformer Mikhail Gorbachev.
USA TODAY says ★★★½. “Shows the consequences of nuclear buildups, sometimes-careless language and nervous leaders. Now, more than ever, those consequences matter.”
“Clock Dance” by Anne Tyler; Knopf, 292 pp.; fiction
Willa is living in Arizona when she hears that her son’s ex-girlfriend in Baltimore has been shot in the leg. Can Willa come and take care of the woman’s daughter? The answer should of course be “no,” and of course Willa, full of indistinct yearning, says “yes.”
USA TODAY says ★★★½. “Anne Tyler is one of this country’s great artists. A powerful, stirring work.”
“The Banker’s Wife” by Cristina Alger; Putnam, 352 pp.; fiction
In this international thriller about offshore banking, two highly reliable women are forced into action when the men in their lives vanish and leave them holding the bag.
USA TODAY says ★★★. “An addictive dose of suspense and intrigue with a surprisingly believable plot.”
Contributing reviewers: Chris Woodyard, Mary Cadden, Ray Locker, Charles Finch, Steph Cha
These new books will keep you busy through beach season.
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