What You Don't Know Will Make a Whole New World

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From one of California’s most celebrated librarians and public historians, a coming-of-age memoir about the thirst for knowledge and hometown pride.

Dorothy Lazard grew up in the Bay Area of the 1960s and ’70s, surrounded by an expansive network of family, and hungry for knowledge. Here in her first book, she vividly tells the story of her journey to becoming “queen of my own nerdy domain.” Today Lazard is celebrated for her distinguished career as a librarian and public historian, and in these pages she connects her early intellectual pursuits—including a formative encounter with Alex Haley—to the career that made her a community pillar. As she traces her trajectory to adulthood, she also explores her personal experiences connected to the Summer of Love, the murder of Emmett Till, the flourishing of the Black Arts Movement, and the redevelopment of Oakland. As she writes with honesty about the tragedies she faced in her youth—including the loss of both parents—Lazard’s memoir remains triumphant, animated by curiosity, careful reflection, and deep enthusiasm for life.