Editor's Choice: 10 New Books We Recommend This Week

By John Williams - The New York Times
August 16, 2018

Big lives cast long shadows on this week’s list of recommended books. In “Famous Father Girl,” Leonard Bernstein’s elder daughter, Jamie, describes what it was like having the renowned conductor/composer for a dad. “Empress” explains how Nur Jahan came to amass power and influence in a patriarchal dynasty that ruled much of what is now India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. And Claire Tomalin, whose acclaimed biographies have told the stories of Jane Austen, Charles Dickens and other literary giants, gets around to sharing her own accomplished and incident-filled life in a new memoir. It’s not all biography this week: Other subjects include evolution, financial crises and satires of millennial culture.

FAMOUS FATHER GIRL: A Memoir of Growing Up Bernstein, by Jamie Bernstein. (HarperCollins, $28.99.) What was it really like having the charismatic, larger-than-life conductor/composer Leonard Bernstein as a father? It wasn’t easy, as this memoir from his elder daughter reveals; Bernstein could be remote or uncomfortably close, with no boundaries. “Jamie is in print a warm but unsparing eyewitness,” according to Alexandra Jacobs’s review: “peeking poignantly from the wings as her progenitor glories, sifting through the jumbo pillbox when he starts to fall apart.”

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Jamie Bernstein