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December 2013 Issue

By (December 8, 2013) No Comment


Throughout 2013, Open Letters’ Steve Donoghue has been reviewing new and newly reissued books for our review annex OL Weekly. The books he’s selected have spanned the breadth of publishing, encompassing works of history, science, fine art, literary and genre fiction, comics, criticism and much more. He has reviewed — so far — 198 books, and we present them here, by their date of publication. We think they make for splendid reading and can aid all book-lovers in their search for new works or gifts for others. Perhaps most of all, they give a picture of the diverse and gorgeous banquet of books that a single year can offer. For even more (!), you can browse the reviews from 2012.


January 4: Superman: Last Son of Krypton, by Richard Donner, Geoff Johns (script) & Adam Kubert, Gary Frank (art)
January 5: The Kassa Gambit, by M. C. Planck
January 6: Scenes from Early Life, by Philip Hensher
January 7: Alexander of Macedon, 356-323 B.C.: A Historical Biography, by Peter Green (foreward by Eugene N. Borza)
January 8: Ice Forged (The Ascendant Kingdoms Saga, Book 1), by Gail Z. Martin
January 9: World War Two, by Norman Stone
January 10: The Midwife’s Tale, by Sam Thomas
January 11: A Memory of Light, by Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson
January 12: A Jew Among Romans: The Life and Legacy of Flavius Josephus, by Frederic Raphael
January 13: Rome and Rhetoric: Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, by Garry Wills
January 17: The Boy, by Lara Santoro
January 18: Essential X-Men, volume 11, by Chris Claremont et al. (script) & Jim Lee et al. (art)
January 19: Access All Areas: Selected Writings 1990-2010, by Sara Wheeler
January 20: Adventures of Superman: Gil Kane, by Bob Rozakis, Martin Pasko, Marv Wolfman, et al. (script) & Gil Kane (art)
January 24: The World Until Yesterday, by Jared Diamond
January 26: The Fall of the Stone City, by Ismail Kadare (translated by John Hodgson)
January 27: The Illicit Happiness of Other People, by Manu Joseph
January 28: Antarctica: An Intimate Portrait of a Mysterious Continent, by Gabrielle Walker
January 29: The Making of the First World War, by Ian F. W. Beckett
January 30: Money Run, by Jack Heath
January 31: The Best of Youth, by Michael Dahlie


February 1: Engineers of Victory: The Problem Solvers Who Turned the Tide in the Second World War, by Paul Kennedy
February 2: Ways of Going Home, by Alejandro Zambra
February 4: West with the Night, by Beryl Markham
February 7: Furies: War in Europe, 1450-1700, by Lauro Martines
February 8: Europe Before Rome: A Site-by-Site Tour of the Stone, Bronze, and Iron Ages, by T. Douglas Price
February 9: The Aviator’s Wife, by Melanie Benjamin
February 10: I Will Have Vengeance: The Winter of Commissario Ricciardi, by Maurizio de Giovanni
February 11: A Week in Winter, by Maeve Binchy
February 13: How Literature Saved My Life, by David Shields
February 14: A Great and Monstrous Thing: London in the Eighteenth Century, by Jerry White
February 15: Marvel Firsts: WWII Superheroes, Marvel Comics
February 16: Thor the Might Avenger: the Complete Edition, by Roger Langridge (scripts) & Chris Samnee (art)
February 21: The Average American Marriage, by Chad Kultgen
February 23: Blood Sisters: The Women Behind the Wars of the Roses, by Sarah Gristwood
February 28: The Leviathan Effect, by James Lilliefors


March 2: Swords of Albion: The Devil’s Looking Glass, by Mark Chadbourn
March 4: The Praetorian Guard: A History of Rome’s Elite Special Forces, by Sandra Bingham
March 5: Spartacus, by Aldo Schiavone, translated from the Italian by Jeremy Carden
March 6: The Murder of Cleopatra: History’s Greatest Cold Case, by Pat Brown
March 8: Louis Agassiz: Creator of American Science, by Christoph Irmscher
March 9: Britain Begins, by Barry Cunliffe
March 14: After Rome: A Novel of Celtic Britain, by Morgan Llewelyn
March 15: Avengers Versus Thanos, by Jim Starlin, Mike Friedrich, et al (scripts) & Jim Starlin et al (art)
March 16: The Carriage House, by Lousia Hall
March 17: Adam Ferguson in the Scottish Enlightenment, by Iain McDaniel
March 18: The Blue Book, by A.L. Kennedy
March 19: A Sand County Almanac & Other Writings on Ecology and Conservation, by Aldo Leopold
March 20: All the Light There Was, by Nancy Kricorian
March 21: Invisible Armies: An Epic History of Guerrilla Warfare from Ancient Times to the Present, by Max Boot
March 22: The Sunshine When She’s Gone, by Thea Goodman
March 23: Honor, by Elif Shafak
March 24: The Unfinished Odyssey of Robert Kennedy, by David Halberstam
March 25: Dune, by Frank Herbert
March 26: Shadows and Strongholds, by Elizabeth Chadwick
March 27: Abide with Me, by Sabin Willett
March 28: Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife, by Eben Alexander
March 30: The Tale of Raw Head & Bloody Bones, by Jack Wolf
March 31: Edwardian Opulence: British Art at the Dawn of the Twentieth Century, by Angus Trumble & Andrea Wolk Rager


April 1: The Chalice, by Nancy Bilyeau
April 2: The Creation of Anne Boleyn, by Susan Bordo
April 3: Roses Have Thorns, by Sandra Byrd
April 4: Christian Beginnings: From Nazareth to Nicaea, by Geza Vermes
April 5: Lover at Last (a novel of the Black Dagger Brotherhood), by J. R. Ward
April 7: Bolivar: American Liberator, by Marie Arana
April 8: Marcel Proust: A Life, by William C. Carter
April 9: Heinrich Himmler, by Peter Longerich
April 10: The Borgias: The Hidden History, by G. J. Meyer
April 12: Superman: Secret Identity, by Kurt Busiek (script) & Stuart Immonen (art)
April 13: Darwin’s Ghosts: The Secret History of Evolution, by Rebecca Stott
April 14: The Undivided Past: Humanity Beyond Our Differences, by David Cannadine
April 17: The Adventures of Superman, by Gerry Conway, et al (scripts) & Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez (art)
April 20: Hour of the Red God: A Detective Mollel Novel, by Richard Compton
April 21: July 1914: Countdown to War, by Sean McMeekin
April 25: The World of the Salt Marsh: Appreciating and Protecting the Tidal Marshes of the Southeastern Atlantic Coast, by Charles Seabrook
April 26: The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II, by Denise Kiernan
April 28: A California Childhood, by James Franco


May 2: Alexander Wilson: The Scot Who Founded American Ornithology, by Edward H. Burtt, Jr. & William E. Davis, Jr.
May 3: Tocqueville: The Aristocratic Sources of Liberty, by Lucien Jaume
May 4: Europe: The Struggle for Supremacy from 1453 to the Present, by Brendan Simms
May 5: Global Crisis: War, Climate Change & Catastrophe In the Seventeenth Century, by Geoffrey Parker
May 10: The Plantagenets: The Warrior Kings and Queens Who Made England, by Dan Jones
May 14: Pliny and the Artistic Culture of the Italian Renaissance, by Sarah Blake McHam
May 16: All the Great Prizes: The Life of John Hay from Lincoln to Roosevelt, by John Taliaferro
May 18: Edmund Burke: The First Conservative, by Jesse Norman
May 20: Sacred Games, by Gary Corby
May 24: The Guns at Last Light, by Rick Atkinson
May 28: Scatter, Adapt, and Remember: How Humans Will Survive a Mass Extinction, by Annalee Newitz


June 1: World War Z, by Max Brooks
June 2: Ancient Israel – The Former Prophets: Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings, by Robert Alter
June 3: Alexander the Great: The Anabasis and the Indica, by Arrian, translated by Martin Hammond
June 8: Through the Perilous Fight: Six Weeks That Saved the Nation, by Steve Vogel
June 9: Francesco Filelfo: On Exile, Jeroen De Keyser (editor), W. Scott Blanchard (translator)
June 10: The Silence of Animals: On Progress and Other Modern Myths, by John Gray
June 11: The Ides of April: A Flavia Albia Mystery, by Lindsey Davis
June 16: Narwhals: Arctic Whales in a Melting World, by Todd McLeish
June 17: Horace and Me: Life Lessons From an Ancient Roman Poet, by Harry Eyres
June 20: The Malice of Fortune, by Michael Ennis
June 23: Disraeli: The Romance of Politics, by Robert O’Kell
June 26: 2312, by Kim Stanley Robinson
June 29: The Long Road to Antietam: How the Civil War Became a Revolution, by Richard Slotkin


July 2: Deprivation, or, Benedetto furioso: an oneiromancy, by Alex Jeffers
July 5: Our Lives, Our Fortunes & Our Sacred Honor: The Forging of American Independence, 1774-1776, by Richard R. Beeman
July 6: Gettysburg: The Last Invasion, by Allen C. Guelzo
July 9: Nelson: The Sword of Albion, by John Sugden
July 13: 1940: FDR, Wilkie, Lindbergh, Hitler – The Election Amid the Storm, by Susan Dunn
July 14: The Shadow King: The Bizarre Afterlife of King Tut’s Mummy, by Jo Marchant
July 15: Weird Detectives: Recent Investigations, edited by Paula Guran
July 16: The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P., by Adelle Waldman
July 18: Hidden Order, by Brad Thor
July 19: Kafka: The Poet of Shame and Guilt, by Saul Friedlander
July 20: Kafka: The Decisive Years, by Reiner Stach
July 21: Kafka: The Years of Insight, by Reiner Stach
July 22: Summertime, All the Cats are Bored, by Philippe Georget, translated from the French by Steven Rendall
July 27: Take, Burn or Destroy, by S. Thomas Russell
July 28: Night Pilgrims, by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro
July 29: Signatures of Life: Science Searches the Universe, by Edward Ashpole
July 30: The Anglo-Saxon World, by Nicholas J. Higham and Martin J. Ryan
July 31: The Men Who Lost America, by Andrew Jackson O’Shaughnessy


August 1: The White Princess, by Philippa Gregory
August 2: The Warbler Guide, by Tom Stephenson and Scott Whittle
August 3: Long, Obstinate, and Bloody: The Battle of Guilford Courthouse, by Lawrence E. Babits & Joshua B. Howard
August 4: Extra Sensory: The Science and Pseudoscience of Telepathy and Other Powers of the Mind, by Brian Clegg
August 5: Essays of Henry D. Thoreau, an annotated edition by Jeffrey S. Cramer
August 7: Benjamin Britten: A Life for Music, by Neil Powell
August 9: The Letters of T. S. Eliot, Volume 4: 1928-1929, edited by Valerie Eliot & John Haffenden
August 15: The Twelve Caesars: The Dramatic Lives of the Emperors of Rome, by Matthew Dennison
August 17: The Selected Letters of Anthony Hecht, edited by Jonathan F. S. Post
August 19: The Year’s Best Science Fiction: Thirtieth Annual Collection, edited by Gardner Dozois
August 20: Life in a Shell: A Physiologist’s View of a Turtle, by Donald C. Jackson
August 21: Trash Animals: How We Live With Nature’s Filthy, Feral, Invasive, and Unwanted Species, edited by Kelsi Nagy and Phillip David Johnson II
August 23: Planet Without Apes, by Craig B. Stanford
August 27: I’d Know You Anywhere, My Love, by Nancy Tillman
August 30: Armor and Blood: The Battle of Kursk – The Turning Point of World War II, by Dennis E. Showalter
August 31: Ninety Percent of Everything Inside Shipping, The Invisible Industry That Puts Clothes on Your Back, Gas in Your Car, And Food on Your Plate, by Rose George


September 1: Two Boys Kissing, by David Levithan
September 4: In the Olden Time: Victorians and the British Past, by Andrew Sanders
September 7: Royal Inheritance, by Kate Emerson
September 8: Fatal Rivalry: Flodden 1513 – Henry VIII, James IV and the Battle for Renaissance Britain, by George Goodwin
September 9: Shakespeare’s Prince: The Interpretation of “The Famous History of the Life of King Henry the Eighth”, by Guy Story Brown
September 10: A History of Ancient Egypt, from the First Farmers to the Great Pyramid, by John Romer
September 11: Confronting the Classics: Traditions, Adventures and Innovations, by Mary Beard
September 12: Star Trek: The Art of Juan Ortiz, Titan Books
September 15: Ecstatic Nation: Confidence, Crisis, and Compromise, 1848 – 1877, by Brenda Wineapple
September 20: Graphic the Valley, by Peter Brown Hoffmeister
September 22: William Kent: Designing Georgian Britain, edited by Susan Weber
September 27: Forbidden Music: The Jewish Composers Banned by the Nazis, by Michael Haas
September 28: Countdown: Our Last, Best Hope for a Future on Earth?, By Alan Weisman
September 29: The Mighty Thor Omnibus, Vol. 2, by Stan Lee (scripts) & Jack Kirby (art)


October 1: Dirty Words in Deadwood: Literature and the Postwestern, edited by Melody Graulich & Nicholas S. Witschi
October 4: Jefferson and Hamilton: The Rivalry That Forged a Nation, by John Ferling
October 6: The Kraus Project, by Jonathan Franzen, et al
October 7: The Great Sea: A Human History of the Mediterranean, by David Abulafia
October 10: Longbourn, by Jo Baker
October 12: My 1980s & Other Essays, by Wayne Koestenbaum
October 13: Catastrophe 1914: Europe Goes to War, by Max Hastings
October 14: My Crazy Century: A Memoir, by Ivan Klima
October 15: Jack London: An American Life, by Earle Labor
October 18: Queen Anne: The Politics of Passion, by Anne Somerset
October 19: Tudors: The History of England from Henry VIII to Elizabeth I, by Peter Ackroyd
October 22: Henry VIII: The Life and Rule of England’s Nero, by John Matusiak
October 24: Jonathan Swift: His Life and World, by Leo Damrosch
October 26: Naturalists at Sea, by Glyn Williams
October 27: The Urban Bestiary, by Lyanda Lynne Haupt
October 29: The Spanish Queen, by Carolly Erickson
October 30: Octopus! The Most Mysterious Creature in the Sea, by Katherine Harmon Courage
October 31: Nefertiti in the Flak Tower, by Clive James


November 1: “Mr. President”: George Washington and the Making of the Nation’s Highest Office, by Harlow Giles Unger
November 2: The Governor’s Lady, by Robert Inman
November 3: Churchill and the King: The Wartime Alliance of Winston Churchill and George VI, by Kenneth Weisbrode
November 4: Bach: Music in the Castle of Heaven, by John Eliot Gardiner
November 7: Barksdale’s Charge: The True High Tide of the Confederacy, by Phillip Thomas Tucker
November 9: Divine Fury: A History of Genius, by Darrin M. McMahon
November 10: George Washington: Gentleman Warrior, by Stephen Brumwell
November 12: Citizen Emperor: Napoleon in Power, by Philip Dwyer
November 15: The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon, by Brad Stone
November 16: American Statecraft: The Story of the U.S. Foreign Service, by J. Robert Moskin
November 18: Stay: A History of Suicide and the Philosophies Against It, by Jennifer Michael Hecht
November 23: Slow Reading in a Hurried Age, by David Mikics
November 29: Musorgsky & His Circle: A Russian Musical Adventure, by Stephen Walsh


December 1: Heir to the Empire City: New York and the Making of Theodore Roosevelt, by Edward P. Kohn
December 3: Marvel Epic Collection: Thor – War of the Pantheons, by Tom DeFalco, Roger Stern (scripts) & Ron Frenz (art)
December 7: Wellington: The Path to Victory, 1769-1814, by Rory Muir
December 8: My Mistake: A Memoir, by Daniel Menaker
December 10: The Iliad, by Homer, translated by Barry Powell
December 12: The Venetians – A New History: from Marco Polo to Casanova,by Paul Strathern
December 13: 21st Century Science Fiction, edited by David Hartwell and Patrick Nielsen Hayden
December 14: The Libertine: The Art of Love in Eighteenth-Century France, edited by Michel Dolen
December 15: Cosmos, by Carl Sagan, introduction by Anne Druyan, foreword by Neil deGrasse Tyson
December 16: Johnny Alucard, by Kim Newman
December 17: Holding on Upside Down: The Life and Work of Marianne Moore, by Linda Leavell
December 18: Verdun: The Lost History of the Most Important Battle of World War I, 1914-1918, by John Mosier
December 19: The World of the Curl: An Unconventional History of Surfing, by Peter Westwick and Peter Neushul
December 20: The Lost Prince, by Edward Lazellari
December 21: The Devil That Never Dies: The Rise and Threat of Global Antisemitism, by Daniel Jonah Goldhagen
December 22: Japan 1941: Countdown to Infamy, by Eri Hotta
December 23: Latin: Story of a World Language, by Jurgen Leonhardt, translated by Kenneth Kronenberg

Steve Donoghue is a writer and reader living in Boston with his dogs. He’s recently reviewed books for The Washington Post, The National, The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe, Historical Novel Review Online, and The Quarterly Conversation. He is the Managing Editor of Open Letters Monthly, and hosts one of its blogs, Stevereads.