Killing the Messenger by Thomas Peele (Crown Publishers, 2012, 442 pp., $26)
Subtitled A Story of Radical Faith, Racism’s Backlash, and the Assassination of a Journalist, Killing the Messenger traces the horrifying story of Yusuf Ali Bey, the evil and violent leader of Oakland’s Your Black Muslim Bakery cult. The book focuses on the cold-blooded killing in 2007 of flailing journalist Chauncey Bailey from the Oakland Post, an assassination ordered by heir Yusuf Bey IV. Investigative journalist Peele writes a pulse-quickening piece of narrative nonfiction without any sugar coating, an engrossing tale that mines Bey, his crazy ideology, his followers, their actions and the unbelievable circumstances of the times that culminate with the shooting of Bailey. A must-read for Bay Area newsies.
Lost San Francisco by Dennis Evanosky and Eric J. Kos (Pavilion, 2011, 144 pp., $18.95)
Here’s one for history lovers, a treasure trove that’s rich with San Francisco images guaranteed to awaken the nostalgic predilection of most Bay Area natives. Organized chronologically, the picture-heavy book starts with the loss of Mission Dolores in 1834 and ends with the closing of Hunters Point in 1991. The authors, publishers of the Alameda Sun and veterans of many other worthy book projects, go to exquisite pains to find great images and write interesting copy. It’s a definite keeper full of beautiful reminders of San Francisco’s forgotten past.
Pirate & Hoopoe by Diarmid Cammell and Karima Cammell (Dromedary Press, 2012, 221 pp., $55)
This is the most beautiful book of the year to come across my desk. Marketed as an “illustrated hardcover adventure novel,” it’s handsome and inviting on the outside, thanks to a lovely bindery job by Berkeley’s Dromedary Press, and the interior watercolor illustrations are true artworks to behold. The story, starring Pirate, a greedy land developer, and a bird, Hoopoe, is aimed at kids and adults alike and introduces readers to talking animals at Spring Valley in a feel-good tale about humanity. Illustrator Karima Cammell is the artist behind Fourth Street’s Castle in the Air, and the tale is from her father, Diarmid Cammell.