Sports heroes, military giants, one handsome movie star and savory recipes to satisfy even the burliest man’s appetite—these are the hooks that drive this holiday season’s selection of gift books for guys.
INTO THE WAR ROOM
Best known for his novel Forrest Gump, Winston Groom is also a well-published historian. His latest project, The Generals: Patton, MacArthur, Marshall, and the Winning of World War II, is a multi-tiered yet wholly accessible examination of the intertwined careers of three brilliant American soldiers: George Marshall, George Patton and Douglas MacArthur. All three were born in the 1880s, gained critical experience in World War I and became key players in World War II. Groom outlines each man’s personal life and military exploits with special focus on the Second World War, where Marshall excelled as an army administrator, Patton as a fiery commander of forces on the European front and MacArthur as an inspirational leader in the Pacific theater. Groom balances the strictly biographical data with well-researched historical accounts, and along the way he offers invaluable perspectives on the world politics that critically influenced his subjects’ lives.
Accomplished author and competitive hunter Jennifer L.S. Pearsall serves up Praise the Pig: Loin to Belly, Shoulder to Ham—Pork-Inspired Recipes for Every Meal, a comprehensive collection of more than 50 pork recipes. Pearsall’s culinary celebration begins with a thorough overview of pork cuts and styles of preparation and cooking (roasting, smoking, etc.), plus an excellent discussion of bacon brands and pork-savvy kitchen tips. Then come the recipes, with inviting full-color photos, starting with Chili-Rubbed, Salsa-Braised Chops with Spiced Rice, moving to Roasted Pork Tenderloin Chili and ending with Connecticut Clam Chowder. In between are hearty sandwiches, soups (porkestrone!), breakfast dishes, puddings, mac and cheese variations and appetizers to die for, including a Bacon and Roasted Corn Salsa that demands the immediate gathering of ingredients. No self-respecting pork lover could ever refuse this book of porcine delights.
MAN BEHIND THE MUSTACHE
Man’s man Burt Reynolds has had a hit-or-miss acting career. Yet his life has certainly been eventful, as his new memoir, But Enough About Me, clearly attests. Penned with veteran author Jon Winokur, Reynolds’ book is frankly revealing but rarely mean-spirited. For example, Burt’s short-lived marriages to Judy Carne and Loni Anderson were admittedly rocky, but he always takes the high road when he can. More enlightening are his reminiscences of his close friendships with Bette Davis and Dinah Shore, both women of substance whom Burt cherished. Coverage here is chronologically ordered, from Reynolds’ youthful days as a Florida football star to his early acting adventures in New York City to his arrival in California in the 1950s, where small television roles eventually led to feature films, including the critically acclaimed Deliverance (1972) and Boogie Nights (1997), for which he received an Oscar nomination. The enduring Reynolds turns 80 in February, and his surprisingly entertaining show-biz retrospective should find a wide audience.
Journalist Davis Miller’s obsession with Muhammad Ali has spanned from his childhood to the present day, and his book Approaching Ali: A Reclamation in Three Acts represents the culmination of that relationship. The heavyweight champ first inspired Miller when he was a sickly, depressed child. As a teen, Miller had an opportunity to spar with The Greatest, an event that spawned a short news account for Sports Illustrated and helped point him toward a writing career. In this latest testament to his hero, Miller blends new material on his more recent experiences with Ali with reworked excerpts from his previous writings, presenting what he believes to be “the all-time most intimate and quietly startling portrait of Ali’s day-by-day life, as well as the only deeply detailed look at his enormously rich years after boxing.” Ali, now 74 and courageously battling Parkinson’s disease, remains one of the great figures of 20th-century sports, and this profile finds the boxer’s playful good nature and magnanimous personal spirit intact.
TALLYING THE SCORE
Veteran sportswriter Gary Myers recounts the careers of the game’s marquee quarterbacks in Brady vs Manning: The Untold Story of the Rivalry That Transformed the NFL. Myers successfully achieves a dual biography of these iconic figures, focusing not only on what the pair have meant to the National Football League but also what they’ve meant to each other. The relationship between Tom Brady and Peyton Manning emerges here as one of keen mutual respect—both on and off the field—despite the differing nature of their media personas. When Myers isn’t connecting the dots of the Brady-Manning friendship, he serves up thorough profiles of their separate lives, including their college football careers and their arrival on the pro scene: Manning as the coveted #1 draft pick of the Indianapolis Colts in 1998 and Brady as an unheralded 6th-round pick of the New England Patriots in 2000. There are no shocking revelations here, just good information, solid quotes from important football folks and interesting viewpoints on two important athletes.