Sick in the Head by Judd Apatow -- Conversations about Life and Comedy, Random House '15, $27, 489 pages, ASIN #1421414651. Grouping of color glossy images. Otherwise unillustrated.
"How did I start interviewing comedians? That's a good question. I was always a fan of comedy and....okay, I have been completely obsessed with comedy for about as long as I can remember," writes author Judd Apatow in his latest thigh-slapping book. "I blame my dad. My dad was not a comedian, but he may have secretly longed to be one. When I was a kid, he would play us Bill Cosby records and even took me to see him perform at Hofstra University for my birthday when I was in fifth grade."
Sick in the Head is comprised of several dozen interviews with such comedians as Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, Jay Leno, Jeffy Seinfeld, Jimmy Fallon, Martin Short, Mel Brooks, Mike Nichols, Stephen Colbert, Steve Allen and Steve Martin.
Here's a sampling from Judd's interview with Sarah Silverman:
Judd: What drew you to try comedy? Why did you like it so much?
Sarah: My dad taught me swears when I was a toddler and I saw, at a really early age, that if I shocked people, I would get approval, and it made my arms itch with glee. I got addicted to it. It became this source of power in a totally powerless life.
Judd: Did your dad get a kick out of it?
Sarah: He thought it was funny to teach his three-year-old daughter swears.
Judd: Do you like trace your sensibility to anything specific specific other than your dad being amused by watching you shock people?
Sarah: I never consciously set out to talk about taboos or anything like that. That was just what the household I grew up in was like. There weren't any boundaries or a sense of, like "Maybe let's not say that in front of the kids." It was all out there, you know, and I didn't know better. I mean, honestly, a lot of the human etiquette I learned in life I learned from, like, thank-you notes and dating Jimmy Kimmel...."
Author Judd Apatow wrote and directed the films The 40-year-old Virgin, Knocked Up, Funny People and This is 40. He is the executive producer of HBO's Girls. His latest film is Trainwreck. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Leslie Mann, and their family.
Dark Places of the Earth -- The Voyage of the Slave Ship Antelope by Jonathan M. Bryant, Liveright '15, $28.95, 376 pages, ASIN #0871406756. Index, credits, notes, grouping of b&w images, otherwise unillustrated.
"On the morning of February 28, 1825, attorney John Macpherson Berrien prepared to open his case," writes author Jonathan Bryant in his new book. "This was the second of what would be five days of argument before the United States Supreme Court, and Berrien faced a formidable challenge.
"Just two days earlier, on Saturday, Francis Scott Key had opened for the federal government in the case of the Antelope. Key had not yet been relegated to textbooks as the pious author of 'The Star-Spangled Banner.' In 1825 he was a lawyer at his peak: rich, well connected, and influential. He was also a superb speaker -- some put him on a par with Daniel Webster. Key had unleashed all of his rhetorical weapons on Saturday; this was a case he believed in and had worked personally to bring before the Supreme Court.
"The Antelope was a Spanish slave ship that had been captured by privateers and then seized by a United States Revenue Marine cutter off the coast of Florida. Using clear precedent, poetic language, and appeals to morality, Francis Scott Key argued that the hundreds of African captives found aboard the Antelope should be returned to Africa and freedom. United States law demanded it, he said. The law of nations demanded it, he said. Even the law of nature demanded it. Key looked into the eyes of the six justices sitting for the case, four of whom were slave owners, and announced that 'by the law of nature, all men are free.'"
Author Jonathan M. Bryant is professor of history at Georgia Southern University. He specializes in slavery, emancipation, and constitutional law. He lives in Statesboro, GA.
Hit the Target -- Eight Men Who Led the Eighth Air Force to Victory over the Luftwaffe by Bill Yenne, NAL Caliber '15, $26.95, 369 pages, ASIN #0425274179. Index, selected acronyms, selected bibliography, grouping of b&w glossy images, otherwise unillustrated.
From the dust jacket:
"Less than a month after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the U.S. Army formed its first air force designated to operate overseas, the Eighth. Within four months, they had set up base in England. Three months later, they were bombing German targets in occupied Europe.
"The Eighth was the first bomber command on either side to commit strategic daylight bombing. It was a major change in tactics -- and the men of the Eighth paid the price in both lives and blood. But it was that very sacrifice that led the Allies to victory.
"Hit the Target introduces readers to those who made the Eighth Air Force the formidable juggernaut it soon became. Men of all ranks, from General Tooey Spaatz, the hard driving founding commander, to Colonel Jimmy Doolittle, the hero who led the first air raid on Japan, to Maynard 'Snuffy' Smith, the irascible first airman in Europe to be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, and Robert 'Rosie' Rosenthal, who survived his time with the 'Bloody Hundredth,' which lost airmen at a horrifying rate, and who went on to serve as a prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials."
Author Bill Yenne has written more than three dozen nonfiction books, especially on aviation and military history. He lives and works in San Francisco, CA.