When I picked up this book, I had my doubts.  The Whole Damn Deal: Robert  Strauss and the Art of Politics (PublicAffairs, $29.99) is about political rainmaker Robert Strauss, and the author, Kathryn F. McGarr is his great-niece. Then I started reading. And I couldn’t stop. Not only is Strauss endlessly interesting (especially to those of us who suffered through the Democratic Party’s struggles and triumphs in the late 20th century), his great-niece is a terrific researcher who knows how to weave a tale. She is a young Stanford grad and aspiring historian whose book grew out of her studies at Columbia Journalism School. And while she can’t conceal her affection for the man she is writing about, she refused to give him editorial license, working hard to maintain her literary independence without severing her family ties. The end result is a fascinating—and highly entertaining—chronicle of one of Washington’s most skillful, colorful, and irrepressible players. One can’t help wondering after reading this book: What if Bob Strauss were pulling America’s political strings today?

The Whole Damn Deal: Robert Strauss and the Art of Politics Cover Image
ISBN: 9781586488772
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: PublicAffairs - October 11th, 2011

Truth in advertising: I grew up in Berkeley and, from Chez Panisse’s beginnings in 1971, my parents were great fans—and great friends—of Alice Waters and her restaurant. My mother, a food writer and critic in the Bay Area, spent every Bastille Day in the Chez Panisse kitchen peeling garlic for the restaurant’s annual July 14th celebration.  When my mother died in 2006, Alice touchingly invited my dad to dine at the restaurant any time, even without his wife (he had celebrated many birthdays  at Chez P, and on each occasion the menu mysteriously included his two favorite items: duck for the main course, and a lemon tart for dessert).  Over the years, Alice has used her Chez Panisse Foundation to champion the Edible Schoolyard and other efforts to bring healthy, sustainable food to communities across the country. Indeed, the restaurant’s 40th anniversary celebrations last August raised funds for these projects. This beautiful book, Forty Years of Chez Panisse: The Power of Gathering (Clarkson Potter, $55) by Alice Waters and Friends, which includes a foreword by Calvin Trillin and an afterword by Michael Pollan, tells the story of Chez Panisse through photos, recollections, and the iconic posters that artist David Lance Goines made for the restaurant over many years.  More than a collector’s item, this is a lively celebration of Chez Panisse and its revolutionary role in making local, seasonal, and sustainable food a building block of community—and gathering—across our country.

40 Years of Chez Panisse: The Power of Gathering Cover Image
By Alice Waters, Calvin Trillin (Foreword by), Michael Pollan (Afterword by)
ISBN: 9780307718266
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Clarkson Potter - August 23rd, 2011

Essential Pepin (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $40),the new book of recipes from one of the world’s best-known chefs, is not merely a collection of Jacques Pepin’s greatest hits. In assembling more than 700 of his favorite recipes, Pepin shows his evolution from classic French chef a half-century ago to “an American cook” today.  Never losing sight of the essentials of great cooking—simplicity, seasonal ingredients, and exceptional taste—he has adapted and modified some of his signature dishes to match current tastes and values.  Reflecting Pepin’s breadth, clarity, and inventiveness in his twin roles as culinary luminary and television teacher, the Essential Pepin is indeed an essential addition to any cook’s library—and it comes with a DVD.

Essential Pépin: More Than 700 All-Time Favorites from My Life in Food Cover Image
ISBN: 9780547232799
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Rux Martin/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt - October 18th, 2011