Chasing One’s History: Memoir Previews, May 2021, Pt. 3 | Prepub Alert

Journalism, boxing, soldiering, and more: recalling the past to understand the present. 

Bernstein, Carl. Chasing History: A Kid in the Newsroom. Holt. May 2021. 352p. ISBN 9781627791502. $28.99. CD. MEMOIR

With Bob Woodward, Bernstein broke the Watergate story, which helped shove Richard Nixon off the presidential pedestal and won the Washington Post a Pulitzer Prize. But here he backtracks to the early 1960s and his beginnings as a teenage reporter at the Washington Star, where his work embraced crime, campaigning, and civil rights. With a 100,000-copy first printing.

Broom, Brian. Punch Me Up to the Gods: A Memoir. Houghton Harcourt. May 2021. 256p. ISBN 9780358439103. $26. CD. MEMOIR

Grand prize in Carnegie Mellon University's Martin Luther King Writing Awards and currently studying for an MFA at the University of Pittsburgh, poet/screenwriter Broom recounts his upbringing in Ohio as a dark-skinned Black boy crushing on other boys, falling into wild sex and drug use, and struggling to understand who he really is. Structured around Gwendolyn Brooks’s poem “We Real Cool” as an evocation of vulnerable Black boyhood.

Howard, Alathea Fitzalan. The Windsor Diaries: My Childhood with the Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret. Atria. May 2021. 352p. ISBN 9781982169176. $30. MEMOIR

In the midst of World War II’s terrible hardships, Howard found some respite: she was sent to stay with her grandfather at the historic Cumberland Lodge in Windsor Great Park and ended up befriending princesses Elizabeth and Margaret. Imagine picnics and cinema outings with young royalty. Though Howard died in 2001, these diaries are just being published now.

Lewis, Glenn. Sparring with Smokin’ Joe: Joe Frazier’s Epic Battles and Rivalry with Ali. Rowman & Littlefield. Feb. 2021. 256p. ISBN 9781538136799. $24.95. SPORTS

In 1980, Lewis, director of journalism at York College, CUNY, and professor of print journalism at CUNY’s Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism, spent several months in the gym and on the road with boxing great Joe Frazier. Here he recalls Frazier’s anecdotes about his tough upbringing, Hall of Fame career, and rivalry with Muhammad Ali, with Lewis hoping to redress the balance as he trains a spotlight on the quiet-spoken Frazier. One can only hope for Lewis’s sake that the friendly jabs they apparently traded were strictly verbal.

Musgrave, John. The Education of Corporal John Musgrave: A Memoir. Knopf. May 2021. 288p. ISBN 9780451493569. $26.95. Downloadable. MEMOIR

Musgrave served in Vietnam for nearly a year in both the First and Third Marine Divisions before a third injury left him permanently disabled; he was medically retired with two Purple Hearts and two Vietnamese Crosses of Gallantry. Here he recalls his wartime experiences, his fraught return home to political turmoil, and his eventually finding peace among fellow veterans trying to end the war—and he continues working with Afghan and Iraq vets today.

Author Image
Barbara Hoffert

Barbara Hoffert (, @BarbaraHoffert on Twitter) is Editor, LJ Book Review; past chair of the Materials Selection Committee of the RUSA (Reference and User Services Assn.) division of the American Library Association; and past president of the National Book Critics Circle, to which she has just been reelected.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing