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5 books that inspired Oscar-nominated movies

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With the Academy Awards presentations finally coming to your TV or computer this weekend, readers might want to get started on these nonfiction books that were the inspiration for several of this year's Oscar-nominated movies:

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  • Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup

The movie tie-in edition from Penguin Group has a forward by Steve McQueen, director of the film, plus a a helpful introduction by Ira Berlin that gives context to the movie. The autobiography tells how Northup, born a free man in New York, was lured to Washington, D.C., in 1841 with the promise of fast money, then drugged and beaten and sold into slavery. He spent the next twelve years of his life in captivity on a Louisiana cotton plantation.

  • Philomena: A Mother, Her Son, and a Fifty-Year Search By Martin Sixsmith with an forward by Dame Judi Dench

This movie tie-in from Viking Penguin, also based on a true story, is the story of a woman’s search for the son she gave up for adoption. Sixsmith, a former BBC journalist and director of communications for the British government, details what Philomena went through to find her son and the heartbreaking story of how he, having been brought to the U.S., had also tried to find his birth mother.

  • The Sting Man: Inside Abscam By Robert W. Greene

American Hustle begins with the words: “Some of this stuff actually happened.” What really happened is just as juicy., As told in this account by a former Newsday reporter, it’s the amazing inside story of Mel Weinberg, a fast-buck operator, and the incredible scandals he masterminded as he hustled his way from the Bronx to hawking bogus businesses around the world, Weinberg ultimately dreamed up Abscam—the infamous FBI-run sting operation that would bag seven congressmen and one U.S. senator.

  • A Captain's Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALs, and Dangerous Days at Sea By Richard Phillips with Stephan Talty

Richard Phillips captained of the Maersk Alabama, the cargo ship carrying, among other things, food and agricultural materials for the World Food Program. Then armed Somali pirates boarded the ship. The pirates didn't expect the crew to fight back, nor did they expect Captain Phillips to offer himself as hostage in exchange for the safety of his crew. Thus began the tense five-day stand-off, which ended in a daring high-seas rescue involving U.S. Navy SEALs.

  • The Wolf of Wall Street by Jordan Belfort

In the 1990s, Belfort became one of the most infamous kingpins in American finance: a brilliant, conniving stock-chopper who led his merry mob on a wild ride out of Wall Street and into a massive office on Long Island. This is the tale as he himself told it.

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