Nonfiction That Seeks to Understand Our Past and Present


Looking to shake up your reading life with some nonfiction? Over the next few weeks, Parnassus Books is hosting some author-led discussions that delve into both current events and timeless issues, featuring prominent guest writers. Whether you’re in the mood for political journalism, social commentary, or historical perspective, we hope you’ll join us for any or all of these community conversations! 

Take a look:

y648Saturday, February 24, 2018, at 3 p.m.
David Frum, senior editor of The Atlantic, former speechwriter for George W. Bush
Frum will sign and discuss his new book, Trumpocracy: The Corruption of the American RepublicFrum is the author of nine books, including the New York Times bestseller, The Right Man. In his latest, he argues: “From Russia to South Africa, from Turkey to the Philippines, from Venezuela to Hungary, authoritarian leaders have smashed restraints on their power. Media freedom and judicial independence have eroded. The right to vote remains, but the right to have one’s vote counted fairly may not. Until the US presidential election of 2016, the global decline of democracy seemed a concern for other peoples in other lands. . . . That complacent optimism has been upended by the political rise of Donald Trump. The crisis is upon Americans, here and now.”

Screen Shot 2018-02-19 at 10.30.27 AMMonday, February 26, 2018, at 6:30 p.m.
Jeffrey Engel, author of When the World Seemed New, in conversation with Jon Meacham, author of Destiny and Power
These historians will discuss the leadership and legacy of George H. W. Bush in a talk titled “Surviving the Age of Trump.” Meacham’s biography of President Bush, Destiny and Power, was named one of the best books of the year by The Washington Post, The New York Times Book Review, Time, and National Public Radio. Thus he’s the perfect host to interview Jeffrey Engel, whose new book reveals insights from previously classified documents and interviews to share the untold story of what happened when George H. W. Bush faced the end of the Cold War.

x500Tuesday, February 27, 2018, at 5 p.m.
James A. Grimes, professor of musicology at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte
“We played music for sheer survival. We made music in hell.” That quote from celebrated jazz musician and Holocaust survivor Heinz “Coco” Shumann opens Violins of Hope: Violins of the Holocaust — Instruments of Hope and Liberation in Mankind’s Darkest Hour. Grimes will sign and discuss the book, which tells the history of violin music played by Jews during the Holocaust — and the restored instruments that are now in Nashville for a series of cultural events. Consider this author talk a must-do, whether or not you’re attending the upcoming events hosted by the Schermerhorn Symphony Center, Nashville Public Television, Vanderbilt University, Frist Center for the Visual Arts, and more.

9781610396912-2Saturday, March 10, 2018, at 2 p.m.
Radley Balko, reporter at The Washington Post, and Tucker Carrington, director of the George C. Cochran Innocence Project at the University of Mississippi School of Law
Balko and Carrington’s fascinating new book, The Cadaver King and The Country Dentist (available Feb. 27), includes a foreword by none other than John Grisham. Read it and get to know Kennedy Brewer and Levon Brooks, two innocent men who spent a combined 30 years in prison after being wrongly convicted of the rape and murder of two 3-year-old girls in Mississippi. How did the criminal justice system allow them to be imprisoned while the real killer walked free? How did two other men — a medical examiner and a dentist — come to be known as forensic experts, resulting in faulty convictions in case after case? And do the biases and institutional problems that led to these failures of justice still exist?


We’re honored that these visiting writers have chosen Nashville as a stop on their book tours, and we hope to see you soon!

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More author events coming up over the next week: 


– Parnassus Book Club: Desperation Road with author Michael Farris Smith – 2/21/2018 at 6:30 p.m. AND 2/22/2018 at 10 a.m. (Come to either one!)