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The Wednesday Five

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1.

Eleanor and Hick: The Love Affair That Shaped a First Lady
By Susan Quinn

A warm, intimate account of the love between Eleanor Roosevelt and reporter Lorena Hickok—a relationship that, over more than three decades, transformed both women’s lives and empowered them to play significant roles in one of the most tumultuous periods in American history

In 1932, as her husband assumed the presidency, Eleanor Roosevelt entered the claustrophobic, duty-bound existence of the First Lady with dread. By that time, she had put her deep disappointment in her marriage behind her and developed an independent life—now threatened by the public role she would be forced to play. A lifeline came to her in the form of a feisty campaign reporter for the Associated Press: Lorena Hickok. Over the next thirty years, until Eleanor’s death, the two women carried on an extraordinary relationship: They were, at different points, lovers, confidantes, professional advisors, and caring friends.  Deeply researched and told with great warmth, Eleanor and Hick is a vivid portrait of love and a revealing look at how an unlikely romance influenced some of the most consequential years in American history.

“Quinn deftly explores how the unlikely relationship evolved, relying on correspondence between the women, oral histories in archives, various government documents, and numerous other sources that allow readers to learn a great deal about normally private affairs. . . A relentlessly captivating study of two remarkable individuals who helped extend the roles of American women in the public policy realm.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred) 

 

 

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2.

Please Enjoy Your Happiness: A Memoir
By Paul Brinkley Rogers

Pulitzer Prize–winning war correspondent Paul Brinkley‑Rogers has lived an adventurous life all over the world. But there is one story he cannot forget: that of his haunting love affair with a mysterious older Japanese woman in 1959. Paul was a sailor aboard the USS Shangri‑La that long‑ago summer when he met Kaji Yukiko in the seaport of Yokosuka. A fierce intellectual, Yukiko shared her astonishing knowledge of literature, film, and poetry with Paul and encouraged, even demanded, that he use his gifts to become the writer he is today.

But theirs was not a quiet love story. When a member of the yakuza, Japan’s brutal crime syndicate, attempted to kidnap Yukiko, Paul realized that there was much more to her—and to Japan in the devastating wake of World War II—than he saw at first glance. Through the searing letters that Yukiko wrote to him and Paul’s vivid telling of a history made all the more powerful and poignant by the weight of time, Please Enjoy Your Happiness reaches across decades and continents, inviting us all to revisit those loves of our lives that never do end.

 

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3.

Hidden Figures
By Margot Lee Shetterly

The phenomenal true story of the black female mathematicians at NASA at the leading edge of the feminist and civil rights movement, whose calculations helped fuel some of America’s greatest achievements in space—a powerful, revelatory contribution that is as essential to our understanding of race, discrimination, and achievement in modern America.

Before John Glenn orbited the earth, or Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, a group of dedicated female mathematicians known as “human computers” used pencils, slide rules and adding machines to calculate the numbers that would launch rockets, and astronauts, into space.

Among these problem-solvers were a group of exceptionally talented African American women, some of the brightest minds of their generation. Originally relegated to teaching math in the South’s segregated public schools, they were called into service during the labor shortages of World War II, when America’s aeronautics industry was in dire need of anyone who had the right stuff.  Hidden Figures follows the interwoven accounts of Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson and Christine Darden, four African American women who participated in some of NASA’s greatest successes. It chronicles their careers over nearly three decades they faced challenges, forged alliances and used their intellect to change their own lives, and their country’s future.

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