books about Memoir and 2
start with U
Unnatural Selection: A Memoir of Adoption and Wilderness
CavanKerry Press, 2021
Library of Congress HV874.82.R67 $b A3 2021 | Dewey Decimal 362.734092
Adopted at birth, Andrea Ross grew up inhabiting two ecosystems: one was her tangible, adoptive family, the other her birth family, whose mysterious landscape was hidden from her. In this coming-of-age memoir, Ross narrates how in her early twenties, while working as a ranger in Grand Canyon National Park, she embarked on a journey to discover where she came from and, ultimately, who she was. After many missteps and dead ends, Ross uncovered her heartbreaking and inspiring origin story and began navigating the complicated turns of reuniting with her birth parents and their new families. Through backcountry travel in the American West, she also came to understand her place in the world, realizing that her true identity lay not in a choice between adopted or biological parents, but in an expansion of the concept of family.
An Unplanned Life: A Memoir
George McKee Elsey
University of Missouri Press, 2005
Library of Congress E840.8.E45A3 2005 | Dewey Decimal 973.917092
An Unplanned Life
is the scintillating memoir of George Elsey, a small-town kid from western Pennsylvania who, at age twenty-four, was assigned to Franklin Roosevelt’s top-secret intelligence and communications center in the White House. As an officer in the U.S. Naval Reserve, Elsey helped brief the president and his senior associates on war events. He and his map room colleagues acted as the secretariat for Roosevelt’s cabled exchanges with Winston Churchill, Joseph Stalin, and Chiang Kai-shek; filed records of “summit conferences”; and stored in safes plans for future operations. He also traveled with the president in order to code and decode the classified messages that flowed between the presidential train or ship and the White House.
Elsey’s duties continued with Harry Truman’s succession to the presidency. He decoded the famous message from Secretary of War Henry Stimson reporting the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and carried it to President Truman. In 1947, he shed his Naval Reserve uniform and joined the White House’s civilian staff as assistant to the special counsel to the president. In 1949, he became administrative assistant to the president, and, in 1952, he became a member of the Mutual Security Agency staff. During those years, he grew very close to Harry Truman, and thus, a major portion of An Unplanned Life
relates to his experiences then.
In the first postwar winter, Elsey was frequently the only staff member who accompanied President Truman on the USS Williamsburg.
In September 1946, Elsey submitted a report to Truman on U.S.-Soviet relations, which came to be well known as the “Clifford-Elsey Report.” Providing Truman with notes for some two hundred of his “back-of-the-train” informal talks, Elsey played a part in the best remembered feature of the “Whistle-Stop Campaign” that resulted in “the political upset of the century.” In addition to his years at the White House, Elsey also touches on his post–White House years—his time in private industry, his months with Clark Clifford when Clifford was trying unsuccessfully to extricate America from Vietnam, and his long association with the American Red Cross.
An Unplanned Life is a fascinating look at the life of an extraordinary individual who played an important and unprecedented part in two different presidents’ decisions and affected the course of our nation. Anyone with an interest in history will find this memoir fascinating and invaluable.