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At the Library: Captiva Memorial Library offers revealing biographies and memoirs

By Staff | Nov 5, 2014

“I’ll Drink to That: A Life

in Style, With a Twist”

by Betty Halbreich

“Eighty-six-year-old Betty Halbreich is a true original. A tough broad who could have stepped straight out of Stephen Sondheim’s repertoire, she has spent nearly forty years as the legendary personal shopper at Bergdorf Goodman, where she works with socialites, stars, and ordinary women off the street. She has helped many find their true selves through clothes, frank advice, and her own brand of wisdom. She is trusted by the most discriminating persons-including Hollywood’s top stylists-to tell them what looks best. But Halbreich’s personal transformation from a cosseted young girl to a fearless truth teller is the greatest makeover of her career. A Chicago native, Halbreich moved to Manhattan at twenty after marrying the dashing Sonny Halbreich, a true character right out of Damon Runyon who liked the nightlife of New York in the fifties. On the surface, they were a great match, but looks can be deceiving; an unfaithful Sonny was emotionally distant while Halbreich became increasingly anguished. After two decades, the fraying marriage finally came undone. Bereft without Sonny and her identity as his wife, she hit rock bottom. After she began the frightening process of reclaiming herself and started therapy, Halbreich was offered a lifeline in the form of a job at the legendary luxury store Bergdorf Goodman. Soon, she was asked to run the store’s first personal shopping service. It was a perfect fit. Meticulous, impeccable, hardworking, elegant, and-most of all-delightfully funny, Halbreich has never been afraid to tell it to her clients straight. She won’t sell something just to sell it. If an outfit or shoe or purse is too expensive, she’ll dissuade you from buying it. As Halbreich says, “There are two things nobody wants to face: their closet and their mirror.” She helps women do both, every day.” *

“Brothers Forever: The Enduring Bond Between a Marine and a Navy Seal That Transcended Their Ultimate Sacrifice”

by Tom Sileo and Tom Manion

“Four weeks after Navy SEALs had killed Osama bin Laden, the president of the United States stood in Arlington National Cemetery. In his Memorial Day address, he extolled the courage and sacrifice of the two young men buried side by side in the graves before him: Travis Manion, a fallen US Marine, and Brendan Looney, a fallen US Navy SEALkilled three years apart, one in Iraq and one in Afghanistan, these two best friends and former roommates were now buried together-‘brothers forever.’ Award-winning journalist Tom Sileo and Travis’s father, former Marine colonel Tom Manion, tell the intimate and personal story of how these Naval Academy roommates defined a generation’s sacrifice after 9/11, and how their loved ones overcame heartbreak to carry on in their memory. From Travis’s incredible heroism on the streets of Fallujah to Brendan’s anguished Navy SEAL training in the wake of his friend’s death and his own heroism in the mountains of Afghanistana story of friendship, family, and war.” *

“These Few Precious Days: The Final Year of Jack with Jackie”

by Christopher Anderson

“They were the original power couple- outlandishly rich, impossibly attractive, and endlessly fascinating. Now, in this rare, behind-the-scenes portrait of the Kennedys in their final year together, bestselling biographer Christopher Andersen shows us a side of JFK and Jackie we’ve never seen before. Tender, intimate, complex, and, at times, explosive, theirs is a love story unlike any other-filled with secrets, scandals, and bombshells that could never be fully revealed . . . until now. Including: Stunning new details about the Kennedys’ rumored affairs-hers as well as his-and how they ultimately overcame all odds to save their marriage; the president’s many premonitions of his own death, and how he repeatedly tried to pull out of his last fateful trip to Dallas; shocking revelations about how the couple, unaware of the dangers, became dependent on amphetamine injections, the real reason- according to his longtime personal physician- for JFK’s notorious libido, and how the White House hid his many serious medical problems from the public; how the tragic death of their infant son Patrick led to an emotional outpouring from the president that surprised even their closest friends-and brought JFK and Jackie closer than they had ever been; touching firsthand accounts of the family’s most private moments, before and after the assassination. Drawing on hundreds of interviews conducted with the Kennedys’ inner circle-from family members and lifelong friends to key advisors and political confidantes-Andersen takes us deeper inside the world of the president and his first lady than ever before. Unsparing yet sympathetic, bigger than life but all too real captures the ups and downs of a marriage, a man, and a woman” *

“Elvis & Ginger: Elvis Presley’s Fiance and Last Love Finally Tells Her Story”

by Ginger Alden

“Elvis Presley and Graceland were fixtures in the life of Ginger Alden, having been born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee. But she had no idea that she would play a part in that enduring legacy-as Elvis Presley’s fiance, and his last great love. For over three decades Ginger has held the truth of their relationship close to her heart. Now she shares her unique story, and while a lot has been written about the King, the Elvis we meet in this long-anticipated memoir is a revelation. In her own words Ginger details their whirlwind romance-from first kiss to his stunning proposal of marriage. She details his exploration of Eastern religions, his perception of being a ‘legend,’ his devotion to family and friends, and her attempt to know the insular group surrounding Elvis. And for the very first time she talks about the devastating end of it all, and the 50,000 mourners and reporters who descended on Graceland in 1977, exposing Ginger to the reality of living in the spotlight of a short, yet immortal, life. Above it all, Alden rescues Elvis from the hearsay, rumors, and tabloid speculations of his final year by shedding a frank yet personal light on a very public legend…” *

“Eisenhower: A Life”

by Paul Johnson

“Paul Johnson offers a fascinating portrait of Dwight D. Eisenhower, focusing particularly on his years as a five-star general and his time as the thirty-fourth president of the United States chronicles President Eisenhower’s modest childhood in Kansas, his college years at West Point, and his rapid ascent through the military ranks, culminating in his appointment as Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe during World War II. Beginning when Eisenhower assumed the presidency from Harry Truman in 1952a rich portrait of his two consecutive terms, exploring his volatile relationship with then-Vice President Richard Nixon, his abhorrence of isolationism, and his position on the Cold War, McCarthyism, and the Civil Rights Movementwhen Eisenhower left the White House at age 70he feared for the country’s future and prophetically warned of the looming military-industrial complex. Many elements of Eisenhower’s presidency speak to American politics today, including his ability to balance the budget and skill in managing an oppositional Congress. This brief yet comprehensive study will appeal to biography lovers, enthusiasts of presidential history and of military history alike.” *

* Book jacket/publisher description

-Ann Bradley is Senior Librarian, Branch Manager at the Captiva Memorial Library