The City Magazine Since 1975

Book Report

March 2018
Book Report

From a laugh-out-loud memoir to historical fiction by a best-selling author, local—and locally connected—writers have turned out tomes on a vast range of subjects in recent months. Here, find your next read

Empath by Marcus Amaker (CreateSpace, December 2017, $11)

Charleston’s first Poet Laureate knows how to draw a reader in: with vintage photos sprinkled amidst odes to family “spoken words” shared in his own handwriting, and a collection of written “snapshots” of the Holy City (including “Black Cloth,” composed in the wake of the massacre at Emanuel AME). Amaker not only created a pocket-size journal to accompany the tome, he also collaborated with Grammy-nominated local musician/producer Quentin E. Baxter to produce a complementary poetry and jazz album.

Dispatches Along the Way by Prioleau Alexander (CreateSpace, December 2017, $14)

Alexander writes of his middle-aged odyssey along the Camino de Santiago (or “The Way of St. James”), a pilgrimage route through Spain, in this hilarious travel memoir. Tempering theological and philosophical thoughts with made-up conversations between the likes of Christopher Columbus and King Ferdinand, ski bums and Hunter St. Thomas, he’ll have you laughing, but dabbling in self-examination, too.

The Realms of God by Michael Livingston (Tor Books, November 2017, $29)

Medieval scholar and Citadel English professor Livingston concludes his historical fantasy trilogy, The Shards of Heaven, with this good-versus-evil thriller. Three demons are working with Augustus Caesar’s heir, Tiberius, to capture elusive treasures believed to possess the power of God.

Fools and Mortals by Bernard Cornwell (Harper, January 2018, $28)

When Cornwell isn’t living on the peninsula and penning best-selling works of historical fiction, he’s summering in Cape Cod and performing in theater productions. His latest stand-alone novel combines his artistic passions, centering around Richard Shakespeare, an actor dreaming of fame in the London theater world over which his estranged brother, William, reigns. When Richard falls under suspicion for the disappearance of a priceless manuscript, he must step into his most important—and dangerous—role yet.

The Culinarians by David S. Shields (University of Chicago Press, October 2017, $45)

Charleston’s favorite food historian delves into tales of 175 cooks and restaurateurs who contributed to the development of fine dining in America. Short biographies on the likes of charcuterie-makers, confectioners, congressional caterers, and cooking-school matrons—who lived and worked from the late 1700s up until Prohibition—fill the hefty volume, illustrated with historical photographs, menus, and advertisements.

Two Charlestonians at War by Barbara L. Bellows (LSU Press, March 2018, $38)

In alternating chapters, Bellows tells the exhaustively researched tales of two Charleston natives on different sides of the Civil War—Confederate plantation owner Captain Thomas Pinckney and free black Union soldier Sergeant Joseph Humphries Barquet—and what happens when Barquet stands guard over Pinckney at a Morris Island prison.


Photographs by (stack of books) Taylor Jordan & courtesy of (Two Charlestonians at War) LSU Press