Books of the week

CoverFor a couple of years I've been anticipating the biography of Isaias Hellman, who had a hand in so much early Los Angeles history as the power behind Farmers and Merchants Bank. The author, journalist Frances Dinkelspiel, blogs in the Bay Area and I've picked up some of her media items. (She's also Hellman's great great granddaughter.) After eight years of research and 50,000 pieces of archival material, "Towers of Gold: How One Jewish Immigrant Named Isaias Hellman Created California" is out now. On Sunday I was visiting the Sonoma County town of Healdsburg when she came to read. I missed her by an hour or so — had a pressing date with the coast — but I'm looking forward to meeting her down here. She reads Friday evening at the Huntington Library and Saturday morning at the Rancho Los Alamitos Historic Ranch and Gardens. She's been blogged about by California Authors and Susan Kitchens.

Also: Sharon Waxman's "Loot: The Battle over the Stolen Treasures of the Ancient World" (site) has been getting a lot of attention, including excerpts at Smithsonian Magazine and The Daily Beast and a book party introduction by Arianna Huffington at the L.A. Art Association....Former Orange County Register columnist Steve Bisheff's book, "John Wooden: An American Treasure," has come out from Cumberland House Publishing.

This week from Publishers Lunch:

  • Retired former Dodger Mike Piazza will write his autobiography, "discussing everything from the 2000 World Series incident when Roger Clemens threw a shattered bat at Piazza, and the press conference he held to deny rumors that he was gay to his tumultuous relationships with the Los Angeles Dodgers."
  • Nate Silver, founder of, sold books to Penguin described as "a Freakonomics-style guide to the mechanics of electoral politics" and on the art of prediction.
  • Sarah Silverman sold a collection of humorous essays to Harper.
  • Comedian Susie Essman sold "What Would Susie Say?," a humorous advice book based in part on her alter ego as Susie Green on "Curb Your Enthusiasm," to Simon & Schuster.

More by Kevin Roderick:
Ralph Lawler of the Clippers and the age of Aquarius
Riding the Expo Line to USC 'just magical'
Last bastion of free parking? Loyola Marymount to charge students
Matt Kemp, Dodgers and Kings start big weekend the right way
LA Times writers revisit their '92 riots observations
Recent Books stories on LA Observed:
Bestselling books of the week in SoCal stores
The other horrible April 29 date in Los Angeles history
Expo Line misses book festival by that much
Portrait of a Bookstore to close on Tujunga Avenue
Fiction does have a winner at LA Times Book Prizes

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