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True Stories

Get lost in the past with these biographies, memoirs, and history books.


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Rogues

- by Patrick R. Keefe

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From the prize-winning, New York Times bestselling author of Say Nothing and Empire of Pain, twelve enthralling stories of misbehavior and skullduggery by one of the most decorated journalists of our time.

"I read everything he writes. Every time he writes a book, I read it. Every time he writes an article, I read it. . . . He's a national treasure." --Rachel Maddow, host of MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show and author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Blowout
 
Patrick Radden Keefe has garnered prizes ranging from the National Magazine Award to the Orwell Prize to the National Book Critics Circle Award for his meticulously reported, hypnotically engaging work on the many ways people behave badly. Rogues brings together a dozen of his most celebrated articles from The New Yorker. As Keefe says in his preface, "They reflect on some of my abiding preoccupations: crime and corruption, secrets and lies, the permeable membrane separating licit and illicit worlds, the bonds of family, the power of denial."
 
Keefe brilliantly explores the intricacies of forging $150,000 vintage wines, examines whether a whistle-blower who dared to expose money laundering at a Swiss bank is a hero or a fabulist, spends time in Vietnam with Anthony Bourdain, chronicles the quest to bring down a cheerful international black-market arms merchant, and profiles a passionate death-penalty attorney who represents the "worst of the worst," among other bravura works of literary journalism.
 
The appearance of his byline in The New Yorker is always an event, and collected here for the first time readers can see his work forms an always enthralling but deeply human portrait of criminals and rascals, as well as those who stand up against them.

Going There

- by Katie Couric

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This heartbreaking, hilarious, and brutally honest memoir shares the deeply personal life story of a girl next door and her transformation into a household name.

For more than forty years, Katie Couric has been an iconic presence in the media world. In her brutally honest, hilarious, heartbreaking memoir, she reveals what was going on behind the scenes of her sometimes tumultuous personal and professional life - a story she's never shared, until now. Of the medium she loves, the one that made her a household name, she says, "Television can put you in a box; the flat-screen can flatten. On TV, you are larger than life but smaller, too. It is not the whole story, and it is not the whole me. This book is."

Beginning in early childhood, Couric was inspired by her journalist father to pursue the career he loved but couldn't afford to stay in. Balancing her vivacious, outgoing personality with her desire to be taken seriously, she overcame every obstacle in her way: insecurity, an eating disorder, being typecast, sexism . . . challenges, and how she dealt with them, setting the tone for the rest of her career. Couric talks candidly about adjusting to sudden fame after her astonishing rise to co-anchor of the TODAY show, and guides us through the most momentous events and news stories of the era, to which she had a front-row seat:  Rodney King, Anita Hill, Columbine, the death of Princess Diana, 9/11, the Iraq War . . . In every instance, she relentlessly pursued the facts, ruffling more than a few feathers along the way.  She also recalls in vivid and sometimes lurid detail the intense pressure on female anchors to snag the latest "get"--often sensational tabloid stories like Jon Benet Ramsey, Tonya Harding, and OJ Simpson.

Couric's position as one of the leading lights of her profession was  shadowed by the shock and trauma of losing her husband to stage 4 colon cancer when he was just 42, leaving her a widow and single mom to two daughters, 6 and 2. The death of her sister Emily, just three years later, brought yet more trauma--and an unwavering commitment to cancer awareness and research, one of her proudest accomplishments.

 Couric is unsparing in the details of her historic move to the anchor chair at the CBS Evening News--a world rife with sexism and misogyny.  Her "welcome" was even more hostile at 60 Minutes, an unrepentant boys club that engaged in outright hazing of even the most established women.  In the wake of the MeToo movement, Couric shares her clear-eyed reckoning with gender inequality and predatory behavior in the workplace, and downfall of Matt Lauer--a colleague she had trusted and respected for more than a decade.

Couric also talks about the challenge of finding love again, with all the hilarity, false-starts, and drama that search entailed, before finding her midlife Mr. Right.  Something she has never discussed publicly--why her second marriage almost didn't happen. 

If you thought you knew Katie Couric, think again. Going There is the fast-paced, emotional, riveting story of a thoroughly modern woman, whose journey took her from humble origins to superstardom. In these pages, you will find a friend, a confidante, a role model, a survivor whose lessons about life will enrich your own.

Sisters in Resistance

- by Tilar J. Mazzeo

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In a tale as twisted as any spy thriller, discover how three women delivered critical evidence of Axis war crimes to Allied forces during World War II: "A tantalizingly novelistic history lesson" (Kirkus).
 
In 1944, news of secret diaries kept by Italy's Foreign Minister, Galeazzo Ciano, had permeated public consciousness. What wasn't reported, however, was how three women--a Fascist's daughter, a German spy, and an American banker's wife--risked their lives to ensure the diaries would reach the Allies, who would later use them as evidence against the Nazis at Nuremberg.

In 1944, Benito Mussolini's daughter, Edda, gave Hitler and her father an ultimatum: release her husband, Galeazzo Ciano, from prison, or risk her leaking her husband's journals to the press. To avoid the peril of exposing Nazi lies, Hitler and Mussolini hunted for the diaries for months, determined to destroy them.

Hilde Beetz, a German spy, was deployed to seduce Ciano to learn the diaries' location and take them from Edda. As the seducer became the seduced, Hilde converted as a double agent, joining forces with Edda to save Ciano from execution. When this failed, Edda fled to Switzerland with Hilde's daring assistance to keep Ciano's final wish: to see the diaries published for use by the Allies. When American spymaster Allen Dulles learned of Edda's escape, he sent in Frances De Chollet, an "accidental" spy, telling her to find Edda, gain her trust, and, crucially, hand the diaries over to the Americans. Together, they succeeded in preserving one of the most important documents of WWII.
         
Drawing from in-depth research and first-person interviews with people who witnessed these events, Mazzeo gives readers a riveting look into this little-known moment in history and shows how, without Edda, Hilde, and Frances's involvement, certain convictions at Nuremberg would never have been possible.

The Pope at War

- by David I. Kertzer

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INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER o Based on newly opened Vatican archives, a groundbreaking, explosive, and riveting book about Pope Pius XII and his actions during World War II, including how he responded to the Holocaust, by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Pope and Mussolini

"Splendid . . . The Pope at War ends much of the debate about the pope and surely makes any lingering apologia for his stance implausible."--Ian Kershaw, author of Hitler: A Biography

When Pope Pius XII died in 1958, his papers were sealed in the Vatican Secret Archives, leaving unanswered questions about what he knew and did during World War II. Those questions have only grown and festered, making Pius XII one of the most controversial popes in Church history, especially now as the Vatican prepares to canonize him.

In 2020, Pius XII's archives were finally opened, and David I. Kertzer--widely recognized as one of the world's leading Vatican scholars--has been mining this new material ever since, revealing how the pope came to set aside moral leadership in order to preserve his church's power.

Based on thousands of never-before-seen documents not only from the Vatican, but from archives in Italy, Germany, France, Britain, and the United States, The Pope at War paints a new, dramatic portrait of what the pope did and did not do as war enveloped the continent and as the Nazis began their systematic mass murder of Europe's Jews. The book clears away the myths and sheer falsehoods surrounding the pope's actions from 1939 to 1945, showing why the pope repeatedly bent to the wills of Hitler and Mussolini.

Just as Kertzer's Pulitzer Prize-winning The Pope and Mussolini became the definitive book on Pope Pius XI and the Fascist regime, The Pope at War is destined to become the most influential account of his successor, Pius XII, and his relations with Mussolini and Hitler. Kertzer shows why no full understanding of the course of World War II is complete without knowledge of the dramatic, behind-the-scenes role played by the pope. "This remarkably researched book is replete with revelations that deserve the adjective 'explosive,'" says Kevin Madigan, Winn Professor of Ecclesiastical History at Harvard University. "The Pope at War is a masterpiece."

The Bomber Mafia

- by Malcolm Gladwell

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A "truly compelling" (Good Morning America) New York Times bestseller that explores how technology and best intentions collide in the heat of war--from the creator and host of the podcast Revisionist History. In The Bomber Mafia, Malcolm Gladwell weaves together the stories of a Dutch genius and his homemade computer, a band of brothers in central Alabama, a British psychopath, and pyromaniacal chemists at Harvard to examine one of the greatest moral challenges in modern American history.
 
Most military thinkers in the years leading up to World War II saw the airplane as an afterthought. But a small band of idealistic strategists, the "Bomber Mafia," asked: What if precision bombing could cripple the enemy and make war far less lethal?  
 
In contrast, the bombing of Tokyo on the deadliest night of the war was the brainchild of General Curtis LeMay, whose brutal pragmatism and scorched-earth tactics in Japan cost thousands of civilian lives, but may have spared even more by averting a planned US invasion. In The Bomber Mafia, Gladwell asks, "Was it worth it?"
 
Things might have gone differently had LeMay's predecessor, General Haywood Hansell, remained in charge. Hansell believed in precision bombing, but when he and Curtis LeMay squared off for a leadership handover in the jungles of Guam, LeMay emerged victorious, leading to the darkest night of World War II. The Bomber Mafia is a riveting tale of persistence, innovation, and the incalculable wages of war.

The Facemaker

- by Lindsey Fitzharris

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A New York Times Bestseller

"Enthralling. Harrowing. Heartbreaking. And utterly redemptive. Lindsey Fitzharris hit this one out of the park." --Erik Larson, author of The Splendid and the Vile


Lindsey Fitzharris, the award-winning author of The Butchering Art, presents the compelling, true story of a visionary surgeon who rebuilt the faces of the First World War's injured heroes, and in the process ushered in the modern era of plastic surgery.


From the moment the first machine gun rang out over the Western Front, one thing was clear: humankind's military technology had wildly surpassed its medical capabilities. Bodies were battered, gouged, hacked, and gassed. The First World War claimed millions of lives and left millions more wounded and disfigured. In the midst of this brutality, however, there were also those who strove to alleviate suffering. The Facemaker tells the extraordinary story of such an individual: the pioneering plastic surgeon Harold Gillies, who dedicated himself to reconstructing the burned and broken faces of the injured soldiers under his care.

Gillies, a Cambridge-educated New Zealander, became interested in the nascent field of plastic surgery after encountering the human wreckage on the front. Returning to Britain, he established one of the world's first hospitals dedicated entirely to facial reconstruction. There, Gillies assembled a unique group of practitioners whose task was to rebuild what had been torn apart, to re-create what had been destroyed. At a time when losing a limb made a soldier a hero, but losing a face made him a monster to a society largely intolerant of disfigurement, Gillies restored not just the faces of the wounded but also their spirits.

The Facemaker places Gillies's ingenious surgical innovations alongside the dramatic stories of soldiers whose lives were wrecked and repaired. The result is a vivid account of how medicine can be an art, and of what courage and imagination can accomplish in the presence of relentless horror.

In the Shadow of the Gods

- by Dominic Lieven

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A dazzling account of the men (and occasional woman) who led the world's empires, a book that probes the essence of leadership and power through the centuries and around the world.

From the rise of Sargon of Akkad, who in the third millennium BCE ruled what is now Iraq and Syria, to the collapse of the great European empires in the twentieth century, the empire has been the dominant form of power in history. Dominic Lieven's expansive book explores strengths and failings of the human beings who held those empires together (or let them crumble). He projects the power, terror, magnificence, and confidence of imperial monarchy, tracking what they had in common as well as what made some rise to glory and others fail spectacularly, and at what price each destiny was reached.

Lieven's characters--Constantine, Chinggis Khan, Trajan, Suleyman, Hadrian, Louis XIV, Maria Theresa, Peter the Great, Queen Victoria, and dozens more--come alive with color, energy, and detail: their upbringings, their loves, their crucial spouses, their dreadful children. They illustrate how politics and government are a gruelling business: a ruler needed stamina, mental and physical toughness, and self-confidence. He or she needed the sound judgement of problems and people which is partly innate but also the product of education and experience. A good brain was essential for setting priorities, weighing conflicting advice, and matching ends to needs. A diplomatically astute marriage was often even more essential. 
 
Emperors (and the rare empresses) could be sacred symbols, warrior kings, political leaders, chief executive officers of the government machine, heads of a family, and impresarios directing the many elements of "soft power" essential to any regime's survival. What was it like to live and work in such an extraordinary role? What qualities did it take to perform this role successfully? Lieven traces the shifting balance among these elements across eras  that encompass a staggering array of events from the rise of the world's great religions to the scientific revolution, the expansion of European empires across oceans, the great twentieth century conflicts, and the triumph of nationalism over imperialism.

The rule of the emperor may be over, but Lieven shows us how we live with its poltical and cultural legacies today. 

James Patterson by James Patterson

- by James Patterson

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"It's quite a life, Patterson's, and this fizzing, funny, often deeply moving memoir is a perfect way to understand the dizzying world of a best-selling writer." --Daily Mail 

"Damn near addictive. I loved it . . . that Patterson guy can write!" -Ron Howard


THE INSTANT #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER--How did a kid whose dad lived in the poorhouse become the most successful storyteller in the world? On the morning he was born, he nearly died. His dad grew up in the Pogey- the Newburgh, New York, poorhouse. He worked at a mental hospital in Massachusetts, where he met the singer James Taylor and the poet Robert Lowell.   While he toiled in advertising hell, James wrote the ad jingle line "I'm a Toys 'R' Us Kid." He once watched James Baldwin and Norman Mailer square off to trade punches at a party. He's only been in love twice.  Both times are amazing. Dolly Parton once sang "Happy Birthday" to James over the phone.  She calls him J.J., for Jimmy James.  How did a boy from small-town New York become the world's most successful writer? How does he do it? He has always wanted to write the kind of novel that would be read and reread so many times that the binding breaks and the book literally falls apart. As he says, "I'm still working on that one." 

James Patterson by James Patterson is the most anticipated memoir of 2022.

Medicare's Histories

- by Esyllt W. Jones

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Medicare is arguably Canada's most valued social program. As federally-supported medicare enters its second half-century, Medicare's Histories brings together leading social and health historians to reflect on the origins and evolution of medicare and the missed opportunities characterizing its past and present. Embedding medicare in the diverse constituencies that have given it existence and meaning, contributors inquire into the strengths and weaknesses of publicly insured health care and critically examine medicare's unfinished role in achieving greater health equity for all people in Canada regardless of race, status, gender, class, age, and ability. Fundamental to the stories told in Medicare's Histories is the essential role played by communities ¬- of activists, critics, health professionals, First Nations, patients, families, and survivors - in driving demands for health reform, in identifying particular omissions and inequities exacerbated or even created by medicare, and in responding to the realities of medicare for those who work in and rely on it. Contributors to this volume show how medicare has been shaped by politics (in the broadest sense of that word), identities, professional organizations, and social movements in Canada and abroad. As COVID lays bare social inequities and the inadequacies of health care delivery and public health, this book shows what was excluded and what was - and is - possible in health care.

Bill Frisell, Beautiful Dreamer

- by Philip Watson

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The definitive biography of guitar icon and Grammy Award-winning artist Bill Frisell.

FEATURING EXCLUSIVE LISTENING SESSIONS WITH: Paul Simon; Justin Vernon of Bon Iver; Gus Van Sant; Rhiannon Giddens; The Bad Plus; Gavin Bryars; Van Dyke Parks; Sam Amidon; Hal Willner; Jim Woodring; Martin Hayes & Dennis Cahill

'A beautiful and long overdue portrait of one of America's true living cultural treasures.'
JOHN ZORN

'The perfect companion-piece to the music of its subject.'
MOJO

'Outlines the subject's life in a series of scrupulous strokes and intimate interviews that are rare in such undertakings . . . a cool, casual victory.'
IRISH TIMES

Over a period of forty-five years, Bill Frisell has established himself as one of the most innovative and influential musicians at work today.

Growing up playing clarinet in orchestras and marching bands, Frisell has progressed through a remarkable range of musical personas - from devotee of jazz master Jim Hall to 'house guitarist' of estimable German label ECM, from edgy New York downtown experimentalist to plaintive country and bluegrass picker. He has been a pioneering bandleader and collaborator, a prolific composer and arranger and a celebrated Grammy Award winner.

A quietly revolutionary guitar hero who has synthesised many disparate musical elements into one compellingly singular sound, Frisell connects to a diverse range of artists and admirers, including Paul Simon, Elvis Costello, Lucinda Williams, Gus Van Sant, Marianne Faithfull and Justin Vernon, many of whom feature in this book.

Through unprecedented access to the guitarist and interviews with his close family, friends and associates, Philip Watson tells Frisell's story for the first time.

'Stuffed with musical encounters, so many that every couple of pages there's an unheard Frisell recording for the reader to chase down.'
NEW YORKER

'Bill Frisell, Beautiful Dreamer is the definitive biography.'
DOWNBEAT

'Superb . . . the book races along like Sonny Rollins in full sail. Like subject, like writer: this is super-articulate, adventurous prose.'
PERSPECTIVE

'[Watson's] writing balances unbridled passion and dispassionate research nearly as deftly as Mr. Frisell's playing does sound and silence . . . compelling.'
WALL STREET JOURNAL

Return Stroke

- by Dora Dueck

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These personal essays lyrically engage with a wide range of ideas, from the ethical quandaries of biography to early experiences of reading to a child’s coming-out. The collection’s final section is a probing and moving memoir of the author’s time in Paraguay in the 1980s. Whether examining the limitations of remembering or telling beautifully of her late husband’s final days, Dora Dueck’s creative non-fiction seeks to do the very most that can be asked of any book: tell the truth, and tell it well.

Bedroom Rapper

- by Rollie Pemberton

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Bedroom Rapper is a book for obsessive music fans who are looking for the definitive take on what's happened in the last two decades of hip hop, from Cadence Weapon, aka Rollie Pemberton: Pitchfork critic, award-winning musician, producer, DJ, and poet laureate.

Tracing his roots from recording beats in his mom's attic in Edmonton to performing with some of the most recognizable names in rap and electronic music--De La Soul, Public Enemy, Mos Def, Questlove, Diplo, and more--Polaris Prize winner Rollie Pemberton, a.k.a Cadence Weapon, captures the joy in finding yourself, and how a sense of place and purpose entwines inextricably with a music scene.
 
From competitive basement family karaoke to touring Europe, from fights with an exploitative label to finding his creative voice, from protesting against gentrification to using his music to centre political change, Rollie charts his own development alongside a shifting musical landscape. As Rollie finds his feet, the bottom falls out of the industry, and he captures the way so many artists were able to make a nimble name for themselves while labels floundered. 
 
Bedroom Rapper also offers us a wide-ranging and crucial history of hip-hop. With an international perspective that's often missing from rap music journalism, he integrates the gestation of American hip hop with UK grime and niche scenes from the Canadian prairies, bringing his obsessive knowledge of hip-hop to bear on his subject. Rollie takes us into New York in the '70s, Edmonton in the '90s, the legendary Montreal DIY loft scene of the 2000s, and traces the ups and downs of trusting your gut and following your passion, obsessively.
 
With a foreword by Gabriel Szatan, music fans and creators alike will relate to the dedication to craft, obsessive passion for what came before, and desire to shift the future that is embodied in every creative project Rollie takes on. 
 

Half-Bads in White Regalia

- by Cody Caetano

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NATIONAL BESTSELLER

A family tries to learn from the mistakes of past generations in this whirlwind memoir from a wholly original new voice.


The Caetanos move into a doomed house in the highway village of Happyland before an inevitable divorce pulls Cody's parents in separate directions. His mom, Mindimooye, having discovered her Anishinaabe birth family and Sixties Scoop origin story, embarks on a series of fraught relationships and fresh starts. His dad, O Touro, a Portuguese immigrant and drifter, falls back into "big do, little think" behaviour, despite his best intentions.
 
Left alone at the house in Happyland, Cody and his siblings must fend for themselves, even as the pipes burst and the lights go out. His protective big sister, Kris, finds inventive ways to put food on the table, and his stoic big brother, Julian, facilitates his regular escapes into the world of video games. As life yanks them from one temporary solution to the next, they steal moments of joy and resist buckling under "baddie" temptations aplenty.
 
Capturing the chaos and wonder of a precarious childhood, Cody Caetano delivers a fever dream coming-of-age garnished with a slang all his own. Half-Bads in White Regalia is an unforgettable debut that unspools a tangled family history with warmth, humour, and deep generosity.

His Name Is George Floyd

- by Robert Samuels

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A landmark biography by two prizewinning Washington Post reporters that reveals how systemic racism shaped George Floyd's life and legacy--from his family's roots in the tobacco fields of North Carolina, to ongoing inequality in housing, education, health care, criminal justice, and policing--telling the story of how one man's tragic experience brought about a global movement for change.

"It is a testament to the power of His Name Is George Floyd that the book's most vital moments come not after Floyd's death, but in its intimate, unvarnished and scrupulous account of his life . . . Impressive."
--New York Times Book Review

"Since we know George Floyd's death with tragic clarity, we must know Floyd's America--and life--with tragic clarity. Essential for our times."
--Ibram X. Kendi, author of How to Be an Antiracist
 
"A much-needed portrait of the life, times, and martyrdom of George Floyd, a chronicle of the racial awakening sparked by his brutal and untimely death, and an essential work of history I hope everyone will read."
--Henry Louis Gates, Jr., author of The Black Church: This Is Our Story, This Is Our Song

The events of that day are now tragically familiar: on May 25, 2020, George Floyd became the latest Black person to die at the hands of the police, murdered outside of a Minneapolis convenience store by white officer Derek Chauvin. The video recording of his death set off the largest protest movement in the history of the United States, awakening millions to the pervasiveness of racial injustice. But long before his face was painted onto countless murals and his name became synonymous with civil rights, Floyd was a father, partner, athlete, and friend who constantly strove for a better life.
 
His Name Is George Floyd tells the story of a beloved figure from Houston's housing projects as he faced the stifling systemic pressures that come with being a Black man in America. Placing his narrative within the context of the country's enduring legacy of institutional racism, this deeply reported account examines Floyd's family roots in slavery and sharecropping, the segregation of his schools, the overpolicing of his community amid a wave of mass incarceration, and the callous disregard toward his struggle with addiction--putting today's inequality into uniquely human terms. Drawing upon hundreds of interviews with Floyd's closest friends and family, his elementary school teachers and varsity coaches, civil rights icons, and those in the highest seats of political power, Washington Post reporters Robert Samuels and Toluse Olorunnipa offer a poignant and moving exploration of George Floyd's America, revealing how a man who simply wanted to breathe ended up touching the world.

Agents of Influence

- by Henry Hemming

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The astonishing story of the British spies who set out to draw America into World War II
As World War II raged into its second year, Britain sought a powerful ally to join its cause-but the American public was sharply divided on the subject. Canadian-born MI6 officer William Stephenson, with his knowledge and influence in North America, was chosen to change their minds by any means necessary.
In this extraordinary tale of foreign influence on American shores, Henry Hemming shows how Stephenson came to New York--hiring Canadian staffers to keep his operations secret--and flooded the American market with propaganda supporting Franklin Roosevelt and decrying Nazism. His chief opponent was Charles Lindbergh, an insurgent populist who campaigned under the slogan "America First" and had no interest in the war. This set up a shadow duel between Lindbergh and Stephenson, each trying to turn public opinion his way, with the lives of millions potentially on the line.

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