Articles by Steve Donoghue
A columnist for the Financial Times looks at what the Roman poet Horace has meant to him over the years
Ever since Margaret Thatcher died in April and the press set about heaping ordure on her still-warm corpse, I’ve been busily, sadly reading every notice, just as I did for Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II, and just as I’m sure I will for Mikhail Gorbachev. In Thatcher’s case, the sheer intensity of the [...]
The July issue of Vanity Fair has many standard features that are depressing. First and most noticeably, there’s the cover story-hand job common to most glossy magazines; in this case it’s a ‘profile’ of Hollywood’s current top box office Everyman, Channing Tatum, whose he-man pouting on the cover over the banner reading “Channing Tatum: An [...]
The popular philosopher returns to the ideas that made him famous: that man is an animal, that optimism is misguided, and that the very idea of progress is just a re-heated left-over from the zeals of Christianity.
The signature work by one of the prickly fathers of the Italian Renaissance humanism gets its inaugural print edition in the latest offering from Harvard’s magnificent I Tatti Renaissance Library
Literary reputations are a lot like ghosts – they make odd noises, they hang around long after their heartbeat has ceased, and they attract the belief of the credulous all over the world. Just as a bloated mass of spectral ectoplasm was reputedly once a two-timing grocer, so a bloated mass of lazy bloviation [...]
In a stirring new account of the burning of the White House and the Battle of Baltimore during the War of 1812, the individual men and women of the conflict step into the spotlight in all their very human contradictions
Just when you thought the whole ‘negativity-in-book-reviews’ teacup-tempest had finally blown itself out, no less an unlikely Lady Bracknell than Clive James stirs it back up again. Himself a critic of legendary and delightful omni-competence, James has recently announced that his health has gone into serious decline (he just published a poem about it – [...]
Throughout the year, the New York Review of Books is celebrating its 50th anniversary by reprinting excerpts from pieces by some of its most lauded contributors. The excerpts appear on the last page of every issue, and considering the lineup of literary powerhouses the NYRB has always boasted, you’d think the presence of such a [...]
The violent, heroic Wild West of the Bible is given a magnificent new translation and commentary
Two highlights this week from the curiously large number of magazines I read whose titles start with “New” (that also starts the name of the region I call home): In The New Yorker, in addition to some other wonderful stuff (Anthony Lane on “Fast & Furious 6″ is predictably hilarious, for instance), there’s a simple, [...]
In advance of the movie, Max Brooks’ epic zombie novel (now with the customary ugly movie cover) is given a big reprint run in search of even more fans …
A debut novel of alternate history spins out one of the most tantalizing hypotheticals of the past: what if Anne Boleyn had managed to give King Henry VIII a healthy male heir? Some of the answers – and some of the resulting mysteries – may surprise you.
In the penultimate installment of his “Year with the Tudors,” Steve Donoghue pauses to consider some of the young men and women who didn’t quite make it onto the roster of Tudor monarchs.
Some Penguin Classics are comprised of many authors, or no credited authors at all, and since Penguin doesn’t yet publish a Complete Poems of either Yevtushenko or Yeats (and since I’ll be buried in the cold, cold ground before I’ll recognize Zola), I thought it would be only fair to round out our inaugural Penguin [...]
Some Penguin Classics, as we’ve already noted, are miniature battlefields in their own right. Whether its the editor fighting with some previous editor or the translator fighting with some previous translator, these little black-spined editions have always been an odd but perfect place to skirmish. And surely the oddest of these skirmishes – although it [...]
Some Penguin Classics have been forgotten by those who need most to remember them. The Western world has never been more open-handed of women’s rights, for instance, than it is at this moment in the 21st century, and hundreds of thousands of young women in the United States alone have grown up their entire lives [...]
Some Penguin Classics, as we’ve seen, forever get second-banana billing. How much more ironic this whole process is when the author in question was a productive dynamo who managed to write many brilliant things in a long life? What does the non-German world know of Goethe, for example, except perhaps The Sorrows of Young Werther [...]
Some Penguin Classics get the royal treatment – whether they deserve it or not. By ‘royal treatment’ I of course mean not only induction into the Classics line itself, honor enough though it is for one lifetime, but the bestowal of one of Penguin’s gorgeous “Deluxe” volumes, extra-sized, deckle-edged, supremely aesthetic re-packagings that not every [...]
Some Penguin Classics come perfectly recommended. Oh, they all come recommended – that’s what their Introductions are for, after all (although there’ve been one or two instances over the decades when the writer of the Introduction clearly disliked the translator of the work – or, even more titillatingly, clearly disliked the work itself; it can [...]
One of our most enjoyable science-writers turns in a reasonably hopeful prognosis for mankind’s future
Some Penguin Classics just break your heart. Robert Louis Stevenson started writing The Weir of Hermiston in late 1893 in Samoa in a whirlwind of rejuvenated creativity. He’d felt himself scraping the splintery inside edges of his prodigious talent in the course of that year, but he’d found frankly unexpected renewal in writing the dark, [...]
Some Penguin Classics furnish an appetizer that’s so good it almost competes with the main course. Naturally, that becomes proportionately easier depending on how brief the main course is – or how unappetizing. “Unappetizing” has always been my reaction to the two most famous books of sixteenth century satirist and weekend-Benedictine Francois Rabelais, [...]
Some Penguin Classics ain’t what they used to be! Take for example Rex Warner’s sturdy, chatty 1958 translation of six very famous mini-biographies from Plutarch’s epic series of Parallel Lives. Penguin decided early on that bringing out a fat Classic of the whole of Plutarch probably wouldn’t be commercially viable – or aesthetically either, since [...]
Some Penguin Classics – the vast majority of them, in fact – make their appearance too late to console their authors. Our case-in-point today involves an author who needed more consoling than most: the novelist and short story writer John O’Hara, who flourished in the 1930s and ‘40s, in the heady first heyday of The [...]
A historian’s great trilogy about U.S. forces at war on WWII’s Western front at last comes to its finish
We can pause roughly mid-way in our Penguin Alphabet to daydream about all those great books out there that for one reason or another (critical unpreparedness, zealously guarded copyright, etc.) have never quite made it into the Classics canon – but very much deserve to. The full list of such Not Yet Penguins would be [...]
As if the tensions between Athens and Sparta at the 80th Olympiad weren’t bad enough, now there’s a dead Spartan – and the chief suspect is Athenian. Young everyman investigator Nico is on the case.
Some Penguin Classics – in fact many of them – leave you badly wanting more. The world, the writers they show us seem to breathe the living air, and the little wedges of exposure we get between Penguin covers tingle the mental skin, make a taste, create an itinerary to the nearest library to [...]
Some Penguin Classics, as we’ve seen, are overshadowed by their own brethren. Authors pour their hearts into the things they write, but no matter how their own estimations fall, the reading public has a much louder say – and it’s almost never how the author would like things to go. Human nature being what it [...]
Some Penguin Classics, as we’ve noted a couple of times, are at least as much about the edition as they are about the work itself – and sometimes this can be a bit problematic. Take the poetry of John Keats, for example. Obviously, he needs to be welcomed into the Penguin Classic line, but how? [...]
The so-called ‘father of conservatism’ gets an aphoristic new biography from a very interested party.
Some Penguin Classics are doubly significant – not only is the ‘source material’ something that’s often been venerated for centuries, but the particular edition chosen by Penguin has also achieved something of the status of a classic. Such is certainly the case with the renowned edition of Juvenal’s satires produced by the great classicist Peter [...]
The great diplomat and statesman John Hay is the subject of a riveting new biography
A scrupulously intelligent and lavishly illustrated new book examines the enormous impact one ancient text had on the whole of the Italian Renaissance
Some Penguin Classics just automatically prompt a smile – because some classics are just happy occurrences, free of somber overtones, free of the burden of interpretation, free of the obligation to be anything other than entertaining (which hasn’t stopped academics and English departments from beavering away at them, but even so). And one of those [...]
Some Penguin Classics are just a bit more famous than others, and the top spot there will likely always go to E. V. Rieu’s 1946 translation of Homer’s Odyssey, because it got the whole show started. And it started in the way all the best intellectual endeavors do: on amateur footing, without a thought of [...]
Some Penguin Classics make their courtroom cases with the blunt force of a bulldog trial lawyer, flatly asserting that their client deserves a better deal. Of course this is what all reprint editions should do, ideally: no book should assume a second life in print – books cost money to make and time to read, after [...]
Some Penguin Classics live forever in the shadow of their more famous brethren, which is of course unfair. My lit’rary friends and I have often lamented the way so many authors are best known for their second-best work, and predicting when and how it’ll happen seems to boil down to divining the urgencies [...]
Using castles and cunning, swords and statesmanship, guile and guts, they ruled England (and big chunks of France) for over two centuries – they were the Plantagenets, and they’re the subject of a boisterous new history
Some Penguin Classics you’ll never the hell have heard of, period. Top of that list would be something like Alexander Exquemelin’s De Americaensche Zee-Rovers, published in a lovely little edition in Holland in 1678, and yet there it is, all dolled up in a 1969 Penguin Classic translation by Alexis Brown. Exquemelin’s book translated into [...]
The 17th century found itself caught between widespread social upheaval and natural catastrophes unprecedented in human history – an absorbing new history looks at the entire world four centuries ago … and of course glances at our own
Some Penguin Classics prove a few of my Rules About Authors (not to be confused with my Rules For Authors, a very different though equally long list) rather handily, as in the case of Richard Henry Dana, Jr.’s rip-snorting 1840 book Two Years Before the Mast, issued as a Penguin in their American Library in [...]
Some Penguin Classics are eerily prescient, sometimes in decidedly unpleasant ways. In 2013 we’re resolutely gearing up for the 2014 centennial of the opening of the First World War, gearing up for a probable onslaught of books, documentaries, and commemorative magazines designed to remember/reassess/cash in on one of the gruesome formative events of the [...]
That long-standing hotbed of world history, Europe, gets a big new dissection by one of our most engaging historians
A brilliant French study of Tocqueville’s “Democracy in America” at last has an English translation
Some Penguin Classics – in fact, perhaps a good deal more than we like to tell ourselves – enshrine books that aren’t really ‘classics’ at all, or ought not to be. This problem – if you view it as a problem, which I tend to – has been hugely exacerbated in the last twenty [...]
Some Penguin Classics, no matter how brilliantly executed, can’t help but represent the tip of the proverbial iceberg, and surely in both those respects – brilliant execution and tantalizing lost worlds – few Penguin Classics can beat the 1977 paperback of Robert Fagles’ great 1966 translation of the Oresteia by Aeschylus. The translation is a [...]
He was a young immigrant from Scotland who was inspired by one great man and inspired another, but in between, Alexander Wilson did the pioneering work of creating the American discipline of bird-study. A wonderful new book re-examines his legacy
He travelled the fledgling United States shooting birds, wiring them into poses, and then painting them for eternity – he was John James Audubon, and his epic “The Birds of America” has a beautiful, gargantuan new edition from Abbeville Press
Our book today is the inimitably-titled little 1896 masterpiece by Eugene Field, The Love Affairs of a Bibliomaniac, and you only have to open it at random to any page in order to be ushered immediately into the living presence of its quirky, funny, utterly adorable author. Should ill chance ever land you in Denver, [...]
The Hollywood actor and star of “Howl” produces a heavily-illustrated book of snippets and short stories, for reasons that are either unclear or all too clear, depending on whose Twitter you follow
At the heigh of the Second World War, they traveled to a custom-made town in the middle of nowhere and worked jobs they didn’t understand and were forbidden to question – and a year later, the U.S. had a working atom bomb. They were the girls of Atomic City, and their story finally gets told.
The southeastern coast of the United States is dotted all over with salt marshes, those magical places forever hovering between land and sea. A captivating new book – now in paperback – sings their praises and recounts their perils.
Our book today is James Milne’s soft-spoken, charming 1925 book A London Book Window, which poses for its readers one simple, irresistible question: “Do you like to hear about the little things which go on in the book world?” Milne was a lifelong writer about books, a smart, unassuming man capable of making just about [...]
Some Penguin Classics have been a part of the mental landscape for so long that finding a Penguin edition of them seems like a foregone conclusion, and surely high up on the list of such books would be Il Principe, the slim, explosive manual Niccolo Machiavelli wrote around 1513 as a dutiful, hopeful submission to [...]
A gripping new book examines just what happened in the crucial interval between the assassination of Franz Ferdinand and the outbreak of general hostilities – and reaches some unusual conclusions.
Our book today is The Rebel Bride, originally published in 1979 by that tireless romancer, Catherine Coulter. When it appeared back in ’79, it was one of those thin Signet Regency romances, the ones with the decorative covers and the filigreed script, this time a courteous, predictable story about Kate Brandon, a fiery-tempered and independent redhead [...]
Our book today is Park-Street Papers, a charming 1908 volume made by Bliss Perry, the sweetest-natured man ever to run the venerable Atlantic Monthly (with all due apologies to the shade of the almost equally venerable Edward Weeks, who ran a wonderful shop for a long time but who would have readily admitted that he [...]
Hour of the Red God: A Detective Mollel Novel
By Richard Compton
Sarah Crichton Books/Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2013
Journalist Richard Crompton’s dazzlingly good debut mystery novel Hour of the Red God is set in 2007 against the …
Despite the tragedy that overtook the city of Boston on the 15th of April, the 18th of April can’t help but force a smile against the gloom: it’s the date of the famous ride of Paul Revere, William Dawes, and Samuel Prescott to warn the sleeping townsfolk of Middlesex County that the British were marching [...]
One of the Man of Steel’s legendary illustrators from the 1970s and ’80s gets his work reprinted in a handsome hardcover volume
One of our greatest living historians argues that far more unites humanity than divides it – but is anybody listening?
Our book today is the tense and yet lush Tudor novel My Enemy the Queen, which that champion quiller of historical romances, Victoria Holt, wrote in a free afternoon one day in 1978. ‘Victoria Holt’ was a pseudonym for an Englishwoman named Eleanor Hibbert, who was born in 1906, endured a brief, tedious interval learning [...]
An ordinary boy in our real world has a funny name – Clark Kent. Funny, that is, until he starts to develop the exact same superpowers as you-know-who
They’re history’s most villainous family, adept at blackmail, poison, murder, and sacrilege – they even have their own TV series! But is it possible there’s more bad press than bad people to the Borgia family? A fascinating new book takes the case back to the basics
The authoritative new biography – now in an enormous paperback – of the architect of Nazi Germany’s “Final Solution”
A splendid reissue of the definitive Marcel Proust biography attempts to show readers the jester, the critic, and the energetic editor in addition to the garrulous fop
The “George Washington of South America” was far more complex and interesting than his familiar tag-line suggests – as a big, fantastic new biography makes abundantly clear
Fifty years ago the great Melville Bell Grosvenor, then the presiding quintessence of National Geographic (son of the magazine’s first editor-in-chief, and grandson of Alexander Graham Bell), collaborated with a bullpen of very creative people and dreamed up a line of National Geographic books, big, heavy, lavishly illustrated things that acted as subject- specific compendiums [...]
In her latest bestseller, J. R. Ward’s two most loved (and lusted-after) bad-boy vampires finally get their turn in the spotlight
A new book by a legendary scholar charts the journey of early Christianity from a charismatic cult to the official religion of an empire
A young Swedish girl travels to England and becomes a lady-in-waiting to Queen Elizabeth I herself
She’s an icon, a cautionary tale, a baleful notoriety – she’s Anne Boleyn, who bewitched a king and drove him to remake a world, all for the sake of a dream she could never give him. A fascinating new book looks at the way all the ways history has made and re-made Henry VIII’s most infamous queen
An intelligent, sensitive Dominican novice finds herself at the heart of passionate conspiracies in the England of Henry VIII
The typical image of Winston Churchill comes from the dark days of World War II: a fat, old, bald Prime Minister eloquently defying Hitler’s Germany. But before there was a monument there was a man, as an engaging new biography brings to light.
The richest denizens of the Edwardian Era swan around in their finest stuff, immortalized by the likes of Sargent and Boldini, and a sumptuous new book from Yale University Press records it all
Our book today is that hilarious, engrossing, inimitable classic, Twelve Against the Gods, written under the pen-name of “William Bolitho” in 1929 (the same author also wrote the enormously enjoyable Murder for Profit) and celebrating a baker’s dozen historical figures who epitomize one aspect or another of the adventurer’s ideal as conceived by our author, [...]
Jack Wolf’s risk-taking debut explores the boundaries of insanity and rationality
Although I’m an unapologetic fan of the big glossy men’s-interest magazines on the market today (I subscribe to a whole slew of them, from Outside and Men’s Journal to Esquire and Details), I know better than to go to most of them for literary opinions. Not because there aren’t some very intelligent people working there, [...]
A neurosurgeon’s reflections on his time in a coma convince him that it held the secret to the universe.
In a novel that’s not as easy as it looks, a soldier comes home to his small Vermont town from Afghanistan – and to the young woman he left behind there.
In a welcome reprint, a brave but untried young 12th century knight must learn how to fight – and take a bride
The greatest sci-fi novel of all time is inaugurated into the Barnes & Noble Leatherbound Classics library
Last week’s New Yorker started off with a letter, written by Jane Scholz, that I’ll quote in full: As is the case with the tragic death of Aaron Swartz, the tragic death of any young person is an incredibly sad event, wharever the cause. I object, however, to the effort of some of [...]
David Halberstam’s 1968 profile of candidate Robert Kennedy gets a new reprint for a new generation
The barbaric custom of ‘honor killing’ is the hinge on which best-selling author Elif Shafak’s complex new novel turns
With the arrival of a new baby, a young Brooklyn couple say good-bye to sleep … and start making some very strange decisions.
A big new book looks at the long history of guerrilla warfare and centers its lessons on our own time.
In this historical novel, the Armenian community of Paris negotiates the arrival of the Nazis – and a young girl navigates her first romance
The most cherished nature classic since “Walden” gets the sparkling Library of America canonization
Our book today is Sarah Bradford’s 1996 biography Elizabeth: A Biography of Her Majesty the Queen, and seeing it on my shelves always reminds me of a frequent quip by an old friend of mine, a Boston trial lawyer with (as Agatha Christie might put it) a brain like a bacon-slicer: when you want something [...]
A young woman finds herself on a ship at sea with both her fiance and a mysterious man from her past, and it’s all like something you’d find in a book …
The greatest enemy of freedom is … democracy? Come get to know Scottish Enlightenment thinker Adam Ferguson, ladies and gentlemen!
A patrician family copes with all kinds of disappointment in Louisa Hall’s not-at-all-disappointing debut novel
Our book today is a 1883 collection of odd ruminations by Percy Fitzgerald called Recreations of a Literary Man (or Does Writing Pay?), one in a virtually endless stream of books Fitzgerald produced once he left off prosperous lawyering in Ireland and made his way to teeming, word-drunk Victorian London to try his hand at [...]
Before the mad demi-titan Thanos arrives to menace movie theaters in 2015, he menaced the good guys in decades of comics – a new anthology collects some of the best of the bad guy
It’s almost never a clean sweep in my weekly Penny Press – almost always, I’ve got to suffer through annoying garbage in order to enjoy the fine stuff (especially since I tend to read everything in every issue – sometimes on my first go-through I’ll skip around, but then the ol’ Irish Guilt kicks in [...]
When Roman troops left Britain forever, the locals were forced to fend for themselves – and in Morgan Llywelyn’s latest historical novel, two cousins take two very different approaches to a world after Rome.
Our book today is a delightful little oddity from 1980: Cityside Countryside, subtitled “A Journey to Two Places.” It’s a collection of columns by two talented journalists: Nathan Cobb, then a features writer for The Boston Globe, and John Cole, the co-founder and then-editor of the Maine Times, and the columns act in dialogue with [...]
Our book today is 1982′s mystery novel Light Thickens, the last book written by the great New Zealand mystery author Ngaio Marsh (by far the most deceptively cerebral of the four “Queens of Crime”) before she died in harness that same year at the ripe old age of 86 (ripe and hypothetical, since in the [...]
Long, long before Canute and the Confessor, England was a fascinating place – the great archaeologist Barry Cunliffe tells the tale!
He revolutionized modern science, and then modern science left him behind. Now a glowing new biography introduces him to a new generation.
Some Penguin Classics, as we’ve noted, represent the tip of an iceberg – which can sound strange when we’re talking about fairly ancient works whose physical survival was certainly no given thing, but which is certainly true when it comes to records dealing with the Frankish emperor Charles the Great, known to all subsequent times [...]
Well, I finally read “Requiem for a Dream,” Larissa MacFarquhar’s New Yorker piece on Aaron Swartz, and I needn’t have been as worried about it as I was – mainly because MacFarquhar is one hell of a good writer (who, I presume, had nothing to do with the ridiculous hyperbole of her piece’s title). It’s [...]
When examining the death of Cleopatra, it’s inevitable: sooner or later, you’re going to have to deal with asp-holes
A little (OK, a bit) frisson of horror at a picture in the latest National Geographic: the story is that gangs of baboons in the Cape Town area have grown progressively bolder and more organized at stealing stuff from humans – “Raiding baboons open doors, yank out windows, and remove roof tiles” says one researcher, [...]
The Penny Press has been mostly behaving itself lately, which is an oddly mixed blessing. When I’m happily reading along, encountering one great piece after another while ensconced in my hole-in-the-wall lunch-time getaway, of course I’m intellectually satisfied (and once again mystified as to how other thinking readers somehow get along without such a steady [...]
He escaped from slavery, fought Rome, and became an immortal name – but what can we really know about Spartacus?
They guarded emperors, they served emperors, and occasionally they killed emperors – they were the Praetorian Guard
In his latest adventure, Mark Chadbourn’s swashbuckling Elizabethan adventurer Will Swyfte continues his battle against the supernatural forces of the Unseelie Court
Even if I hadn’t seen Hilary Mantel’s now-infamous piece in the 21 February London Review of Books, I’d certainly have heard about it by now. I’ve written quite a bit on the Tudors, and I’ve written quite a bit on the Windsors, and I’ve written quite a bit on Mantel – even if I’d somehow [...]
Venice has traded flinty commercial acumen and world-weary merchant princes for an ennui worthy of M. John Harrison’s science fiction; her profession has now become the art of insubstantiality. For centuries authors have tried and failed to capture her. Steve Donoghue surveys the glorious wreckage.
A enormous storm is bearing down on Washington D.C., and the President and his staff are confronted with a group of people who say they can stop the hurricane – for a price
Some Penguin Classics seem to come along at just the right time – actually a great many of them do, but this time was just right for Maurice Evans’ wonderful 1977 edition of that lost, sparkling diamond-mine of English literature, Sir Philip Sidney’s The Countess of Pembroke’s Arcadia. The Arcadia got its start in the [...]
Sarah Gristwood (author of the utterly delightful “Arbella: England’s Lost Queen”) charts the triumphs and tragedies of the seven key women in the Wars of the Roses
The horny, feckless narrator of Kultgen’s “The Average American Male” returns: married, with kids – and, of course, lusting after a co-worker
Which isn’t to say that issue of The New Republic had only one noteworthy item – far from it! I confess, I was worried after the first issue of the redesign. I knew TNR had been bought by a 15-year-old Internet gazillionaire, and I naturally assumed that could never be a good thing. I envisioned [...]
Novelist Ian McEwan writes a deliberately provocative little squib for the newly-redesigned New Republic (disastrously redesigned as well – it disappears on the newsstand, especially this current issue, which for no particular reason has no cover illustration, just the boring new logo on a field of white), something called “The God That Fails” and sub-titled [...]
The Angel – the Silver Scorpion – the Destroyer – the Black Marvel – the Blazing Skull: not exactly household names today, but in the dark days of World War II, they fought the forces of evil for the entertainment of a new kind of reader: comic book fans
“Houses, Churches, mix’d together – Streets, unpleasant in all Weather” – so wrote the poet about resolute, dissolute London, whose 18th century excesses are the subject of a grand new book
David Shields, author of the ‘manifesto’ “Reality Hunger,” is still unhappy with boring old books. In fact, he’s still writing books about how unhappy he is.
Unsure of what to do with her life, a woman turns an old stone house into an inn on the coast of Ireland, and strangers begin to gather …
In 1931 Naples, Commissario Ricciardi pursues the most desperate of criminals, driven by an absolute commitment to justice – and helped by a gift he alone possesses.
A new novel tells the story of Anne Morrow Lindbergh, famous author and wife of an even more famous jerk.
A profusely illustrated you-are-there look at the excavations into European prehistory
The Italian Renaissance of Michelangelo and Raphael was built by – and traumatized by – the constant tramping of hired armies. A provocative new study looks at the birth-price of the modern era
Avunculicide would be just as accurate, since of course we’re referring to Richard, Duke of Gloucester, who in 1483 became King of England after having disposed of the niggling little obstacle of the previous king of England, 14-year-old Edward V, who’d become king upon the death of his father, Edward IV, Richard’s brother. Young Edward [...]
It was a decidedly non-literary day at Ye Olde PO Box: no Arion, no TLS, no London Review of Books, no New York Review of Books … not even the New York Times Book Review to further the ongoing necessary inquiry. Instead, almost as a warning of the lower elevations head, there was a new issue [...]
Our book today is E. Phillips Oppenheim’s 1910 thriller, The Illustrious Prince, which opens right away, on Page 1, with an inadvertent thrill delivered right over the heads of its contemporary readers and right to the reading cortex of its 21st Century audience. In the opening scene, a luxury liner has missed its evening tide [...]
The great travel-adventure classic gets a pretty new reprint
The newest novel from the newest Chilean literary wunderkind
A new history of the Second World War focuses on the mid-level thinkers and technicians whose innovations made the grand strategies work
“The proper function of a critic is to save a tale from the artist who created it” wrote D. H. Lawrence, but sometimes – most of the time – despite the best efforts of the best critics, both tale and artist disappear. What do we do with the criti-cal darlings of yesteryear, now filling the library bargain sale? And what of the critics, who called them imperishable?
Josiah for President by Martha Bolton Zondervan, 2012 “If you can’t trust the Amish, who can you trust?” asks a gushing voter in Martha Bolton’s debut novel, Josiah for President, and like jesting Pilate, does not stay for an answer. Bolton may be a first-time novelist, but she’s an old hand at writing, with over [...]
In Michael Dahlie’s new novel, an idle young millionaire ghost-writes a book for an arrogant Hollywood star
My usual one-two combination of The London Review of Books and the TLS always has a huge amount of long, meaty, scholarly piece of literary journalism – that’s why I’ve been coming back to them every week since before most of you were born. And this last week was no exception, with plenty of great, [...]
She’s a master thief who wants to rob the world’s richest man; he’s a master assassin who wants to kill the world’s richest man – what happens when they run headlong into each other in a glass-and-steel death-trap?
A new history of World War I looks at twelve fragile moments, twelve turning points when small factors determined very large outcomes
Earth’s frozen, forbidding continent is the subject of Gabrielle Walker’s latest book
The death of a talented teenage artist spins his family and friends into turmoil in Manu Joseph’s incredibly accomplished second novel.
In the latest Ismail Kadare novel to be translated into English, an Albanian doctor invites the invading Nazis to an elaborate dinner at his house – but what exactly happens that night, to the strains of Schubert?
Until comparatively recently, historically speaking, mankind existed in small hunter-gatherer societies without states or agriculture. Best-selling author Jared Diamond’s latest book examines the possible up-side of those primitive edens.
As usual, the latest National Geographic contained wonders – and as usual, many of those wonders were distinctly familiar to me! That’s one of the best things about the magazine, for those of its readers who’ve seen a bit of the world: the best photographers in the business work every month to bring it all [...]
Since there’s bloody little else to do on these wretched state and federal holidays during which the holy Post Office is closed (and with a winter storm coming – that being something of a tradition for Inauguration Days I care about), we can get a lot of extra reading done on Martin Luther King Day. [...]
DC Comics collects the 1980s adventures of the Man of Steel, as drawn by the legendary Gil Kane!
A generous anthology collects the work of one of the greatest travel-writers of our day
Marvel’s X-Men reprint series reaches some epoch-defining issues
In Lara Santoro’s new novella, an older woman falls head-over-heels into a physical passion for a younger man – with consequences that threaten to tear her life apart
Hero of Rome by Douglas Jackson Corgi Books, 2011 (US paperback) “She did not look like a man in woman’s dress,” we’re told. “She was tall, certainly, and well-built, but the turn of her wrists was graceful and the waving curls of red hair escaping from her four braids stirred against a face that [...]
The rhetoric of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar might inflame you, it might make you mad – but does Garry Wills o’ershoot himself in his analysis of it all?
The “New 52″ company-wide conceptual reboot that DC Comics pulled off recently has been such a success (both financially and, I grudgingly admit, increasingly creatively as well)(some of the new titles launched back in 2011 are really starting to find their footing, much though I’ll always miss the old standbys they replaced) that transformed the [...]
A new – and forgiving? – look at the ancient Jewish historian whose very name has been hated for two thousand years.
The legendary fantasy series at long last comes to its conclusion
A formidable York midwife must use all her skill and human insight to save the life of a friend accused of murder
The military crucible of the 20th Century gets a new hardcover history that can be read in one hour and fifteen minutes.
The first volume in a new fantasy series opens on a world where the everyday background magic on which everybody depends is beginning to flicker out …
Our book today is Larz Anderson: Letters and Journals of a Diplomat, a pleasingly plump 1940 volume assembled three years after Larz’ death by his wife Isabel, whom we’ve already met here at Stevereads: she was the author of (among many other books) the delightful memoir Presidents and Pies. Her husband Larz spent his whole [...]
One of the best – and certainly the most contentious – biographies of Alexander the Great gets an attractive new reprint
Some Penguin Classics aim for the unreachable, bless their hearts, and a good case-in-point is Guy Lee’s edition of Virgil’s Ecologues, which was brought out in the Penguin Classics line in 1984. Lee opens his Introduction by promptly admitting that the 20th Century had seen no shortage of English translations of Virgil’s career-making debut verse [...]
In the future setting of this promising sci-fi debut, world-hopping humanity finds the last thing it expected: aliens!
In 2012 more than in any previous year, I found myself playing catch up at my beloved Boston Public Library, the best public library in the world. Some of you will already know of my affection for the sumptuous solidity of the McKim building – and especially for the soaring beauty of Bates Hall, under [...]
Our book today is Donald Sobol’s 1963 classic Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective, which introduced Sobol’s immortal character, 10-year-old super-sleuth Leroy “Encyclopedia” Brown, to legions of young people who until they read the book had no idea they liked reading at all – and then found they loved it. Our diminutive hero – “a complete library [...]
The revered (and reviled) Superman director Richard Donner co-writes an epic story from the Man of Steel’s past
Ben Jonson said that the once wealthy and acclaimed Edmund Spenser died “for want of bread”; a new biography tries to disentangle myth from fact, and to make the case for the great poet’s relevance today
In the night sky over Occupied France, two young men met in combat – this remarkable book tells their stories.
“I paint, I work, I am free of thought” said Cezanne, and his thoughtless paintings changed art forever. A cinematic new biography explores the man’s life and art.
The Best Book … of Venice: Monumental Venice by Jacques Boulay (photos) & Jean-Philippe Follet (text) The Best Reprint: Tottel’s Miscellany, edited by Amanda Holton The Best Nature Book: The Last Walk by Jessica Pierce The Best Fiction Debut: The People of Forever Are Not Afraid by Shani Boianjiu The Best Biography: Clover Adams by [...]
On a lonely icebound fjord, the young daughter of a Viking king must solve a series of crimes – and find her destiny
Ambition could well be the watch-word of this year’s best nonfiction: big books on big subjects predominate our list, much to the delight of grown-up readers such as myself. True, there will always be flyweight garbage (“Poo-Poo: A Cultural History,” etc.), but as long as we’ve got books like this top 10, we’ll be OK [...]
Plenty of slim fiction was published in 2012, and a higher-than-normal percentage of it was crap; by some unknown algebra, the balance of the fictional equation this year tipped to fat, ambitious novels, almost a defiant snoot-cocking to those nabobs of negativity who claim the Internet is destroying the reader’s ability to concentrate. This was [...]
As bad as this year’s Worst Fiction entries were, the Worst Nonfiction entries bothered me more, probably because fiction is so inherently variable that it’s hard to hold even its worst excesses against it for long (I have no doubt that some of the authors on that Worst Fiction list will be on future Best [...]
The year’s fiction had glorious monuments of quality and daring (you’ll have to wait a couple of days to read about them here), but they were islands in a flood-tide of timidity and preachy topicality (liberally mixed with some Terror Wars sanctimony). In some years, my main complaint has been that novelists disdainfully, arrogantly abandoned [...]
It was a spotty year for another of my favorite genres, history (books, that is – actual history broke somewhat on the side of the good guys, for a change), but there were unmistakable highlights, the top ten of which were these: 10. The Twilight War by David Crist – In this muscular, incredibly readable, and [...]
As many of you know, I love the genre of biography just a bit more than I do any other genre – at its best, it carries the heft of history, the electric charge of fiction, and the propulsive fascination of mystery (not to mention the bizarre mating-rituals of memoirs). 2012 saw a wet many [...]
Another yardstick useful in measuring the strength of publishing is the health of its new genes. I have a large soft spot for debut novels (having yanked more than my fair share of them out of talented young authors who fought me tooth and nail the whole time), and 2012 was an exciting, encouraging year [...]
The news of the world has never shown a grimmer picture of the war on Nature than we saw in 2012 (compensated only slightly by Nature’s increasing proclivity to make war on us), but the superheated, winterless, waterless blight hasn’t been reflected in the beauty of nature-related books hitting stores. Here are the 10 best [...]
Despite the usual electronics-fuelled panic about the death of print, print is thriving – as can be seen by one of the surest indices of publishing vigor: non-academic reprints for the so-called common reader. 2012 was a very good year for such reprints, some of which (see #7, for instance) have a kind of financial [...]
He put Christianity on the road to world domination – and he did a lot of other horrid things as well. He’s Constantine the Great, and he’s got a new biographer
2012 was swamped by the customary deluge of Venice-books, of course. It’s estimated that somewhere around 350,000 books were published in English in the last twelve months, and roughly 315,000 of them were about Venice, whose fourteen streets and ten canals hosted approximately 475 billion overfed tourists in 2012. Since all of those tourists were [...]
The end of the year is at last in sight, and you all know what that means: yes, the long, patient wait at the door is almost over. That squirrelly institution of the book world, the Stevereads Best – and Worst! – Books of the Year is almost upon us yet again! Looking back at [...]
In a rip-snorting new blood-and-swash history of the War of 1812, the men and their fighting ships take center stage
The official biographer of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother now gives us that most unlikely of things: a collection of her life-long correspondence
Protocols of the Superfluous Immortal A god long since retired to the seaside Checks the post and tuts at the barometer. Some dirty weather in the offing – Freighters in the channel battened down, The green wave-walls remote and terrifying as his youth. He re-reads Hornblower in bed. He never sleeps. An egg, please, and [...]
A new college-use edition of the King James Bible turns out to be that rarest of publishing phenomena: a true must-have masterpiece.
Historian Alison Weir’s latest novel features two young heroines, separated by 80 years but united by their fascination with one of history’s mysteries: the fate of the Princes in the Tower
There’s a momentarily disturbing flash of vertigo that accompanies reading a critical pronouncement from somebody you trust. It’s your own fault, which doesn’t make things any easier: after all, you had to give that trust in the first place. That’s a slow process; you start out warily, distrusting not only random chance (almost anybody can [...]
The latest “Spectrum” arrives, full of worlds of wonder!
Our book today is that megalith of all comic book graphic novels, Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, which ran as a four-issue mini-series in 1986 and was collected into a single volume shortly thereafter. I recently re-read it on the occasion of giving it as a gift to a friend who’ll never read it [...]
Although it’s a typically fraught comics week (new X-Men mania! a new team of Avengers!), the brightest nugget is pure gold: Mike Mignola returning to write and draw a mini-series starring his great creation, Hellboy. The series is called “Hellboy in Hell,” and its first issue kicks off this week with a synopsis page guaranteed [...]
Perfect for the dog-lover on your gift list: a great big new dog-themed anthology from the vaults of the New Yorker
Some of Anthony Burgess’ most accomplished inventions roam into the past, to Shakespeare and Marlowe’s England and Jesus’ Judea. How well has his historical fiction stood up across the years?
Open Letters Weekly has been the venue for hundreds of book reviews in 2012. For your reading pleasure and holiday book-buying convenience, we gather them here in chronological order.
Franz Kafka was eternally affianced but never married – maybe more in love with the concept of love than with any particular woman. A new novel intensely dramatizes the writer and his passions.
“There are certain days,” an old friend once said with soft-spoken certainty, “when quite simply nothing else will do but a spot of murder.” This has been one of those days. A bright, seasonable, obligation-free day calls for slow, hours-long treks with the dogs through forest stands and up along windswept hilltops, with red-tailed hawks [...]
Trying to mind his own business, a man at a Yankees game refuses to stand for a singing of “God Bless America” – and all Hell breaks loose.
The many natural worlds of India – and the variety of striking animals who inhabit those worlds – come alive in this enormous illustrated volume
The latest volume of travel-writing from novelist and memoirist Andre Aciman takes readers from Paris to Rome to Venice to New York and back
Some Penguin Classics front such a great story that you feel irresistibly compelled to open with it: a rector of stern and upright countenance mounts the lectern of the old church of Diss in Norfolk, his broad, rough face blackened with barely suppressed rage. He has lately come from a dressing-down given to him by [...]
Fresh from the halcyon 1980s, the avenging murderer of mass murderers gets a fresh new reprint series
Dramatized in the pages of this brilliant book, the Nazi state’s embracing of accelerated war-production set a dark pattern for the entire world
The Hostest with the Mostes’ tells her life story in (mostly, kind of) her own words!
Logically, the very idea of boxed sets of books should be off-putting to any serious reader. Boxed sets are constricted affairs, after all, hemmed in on five sides, when books themselves are famously near-fluid things, not only physically (I’ve had them fit into virtually any shape, often unpredictable ones brought on by shameful neglect) but [...]
The calm-eyed gold-plated absolute rulers of ancient Egypt, the Pharaohs in all their splendor, are brought to life in a revealing new history.
Edgar Rice Burroughs’ legendary Ape Man gets a comprehensive visual tribute fit for the king of the jungle
The vast tapestry of Persian literary history gets a new – and decidedly problematic – overview from one of the subject’s greatest modern scholars
DC Comics’ fan-favorite super-team gets a definitive re-telling of its origin story – or at least provisionally definitive.
The warrior-clones in Steven Kent’s Clone Republic series can handle just about anything on the battlefield – but what if somebody starts tinkering with their programming?
the irrepressible novelist, lecturer, and historian takes us on a battle-filled, ale-soaked ransacking tour of England’s long pre-Tudor history
Two witty dialogues by a great Italian Renaissance humanist get a fresh Latin textual overhaul – and their very first English translation.
An ‘ice maiden’ social nobody accidentally meets a drunken young viscount at a party – and sparks (eventually, complicatedly) fly!
The words of Shakespeare have become a common literary language – but whose words did HE know? Why, the words of Thomas Cranmer, of course.
A thick masterwork of that maddening maven of the movie screen, Pauline Kael, gets a rock-solid reprint from Picador
Our book today is Arthur Conan Doyle’s lovely little 1907 ditty Through the Magic Door, which is organized along the conceit of Doyle taking readers on a tour of his book-lined study – pointing out first this title, then that one, and letting the reminiscences and digressions bubble forth just as they would in a [...]
The redoubtable WWII code-breaking sleuth Maggie Hope returns, this time to safeguard the young girl who will one day come to the throne as Queen Elizabeth II
Our book today is that strange wonder from 1983, Jacques Barzun’s A Stroll with William James, and of course it’s down off the shelf for the saddest of reasons, the one kind of re-reading no author covets: Barzun recently died. We compulsively reach for the books of recently-dead authors in part, I think, to reassure [...]
Some Penguin Classics, as noted, represent matches made in Heaven, and surely one of those is the 1989 edition of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women in which the publisher got the mighty Elaine Showalter to do the editing-and-introducing. Alcott’s 1868 runaway bestseller – the story of the young March sisters Amy, Meg, Beth, and Jo [...]
A new series of paperbacks attempts to bring the boredom and terror of war home to young readers
Our book today is something of a prissy little doozy: Percy Lubbock’s 1921 well-mannered bombshell, The Craft of Fiction, which started causing heated coffee-house arguments practically before its ink was dry. Lubbock relished the conception of himself as the last of a vanishing breed of well-educated literary men of leisure (he took paid writing work [...]
Our book today is William Hamilton Gibson’s lovely 1891 nature-book Sharp Eyes, one of half a dozen such books he wrote and illustrated in the course of his relatively short life, starting with 1880′s utterly wonderful Pastoral Days (anybody who’s ever enjoyed any time out-of-doors in New England should own a copy) and including Highways [...]
Our book today is the two-volume final word Mrs. Humphry Ward had on her personal and professional life: A Writer’s Recollections, written by Mary Augusta Ward in 1912 very near the end of a muscular, …
The ‘lost’ adventures of Marvel Comics’ original team of mutant superheroes, the X-Men
It was a positive relief to escape from the now-deafening barrage of periodical commentary on the 2012 U.S. presidential election (my last ’12 election went very poorly – I’m hoping for better this time around) by leaping into the jam-packed pages of last week’s New York. There I found some first-rate movie-reviewing from David Edelstein, [...]
“It was the year in which the Civil War became a cataclysm, the federal government became a colossus, and the Confederacy came nearest to winning its independence …”
A generous collection of stories featuring John Mortimer’s immortal creation, wine-swilling judge-taunting criminal-defending barrister, Horace Rumpole of the Old Bailey
As Americans go to the polls this month to elect a president, some recent biographies examine the lives of five very different men who once held the office.
Six sure-fire books to help you weather the storm!
At the beginning of his career, the great scientist-explorer Tim Flannery literally sailed to the ends of the earth and back – here he sits down to tell some of those stories
Some Penguin Classics almost seem like they’ve been around forever, and yet a prime such example, the Selected Prose of Charles Lamb, only came into existence in 1985, in a pretty trade paperback with Hazlitt’s famous portrait of the young Lamb on its cover. The edition is edited by Adam Phillips, whose Introduction cites Lamb’s [...]
In the opening volume of the “Toxic City” series, London is cut off from the rest of the world and filling up with super-powered mutants – two things which have been true on YouTube for some time now.
The celebrated South African author of “My Traitor’s Heart” publishes a collection of his rabble-rousing, fortifying New Journalism pieces
The great Lev Grossman has a typically smart and interesting piece in last week’s Time (the issue with the hideous cover advertising 60 different stories inside), on a subject of perennial fascination: books translated into movies. I’ve long been on record with the audacious opinion that virtually every movie version ever filmed is better than [...]
Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows! With some ample assistance from comics legend Howard Chaykin
The burgeoning human population is encountering new and strange pathogens every day – how long until one of them becomes the next HIV … or Black Death?
The age-old publishing maxim (it’s actually a maxim for everything, but we’ll stay on our home ground), “Stick With What Works,” has few starker applications than the books-in-series that have long afflicted the sci-fi/fantasy genre. Long after whole forests were pulped to make endless “Gor” and “Lensman” books possible (although nothing could make them readable), [...]
The new book by the great Peter Brown examines a deep conflict: Christ specifically orders Christians to be poor, but Christians would rather not be, thanks just the same.
As we’ve so often noted about the Penny Press, the Lord giveth, and the Lord talketh out His ass. Such was certainly the case with last week’s TLS, in which the ‘debit’ column had an item that nearly made me spit up my Tatws Pum Munud in outrage. The offending piece was by Jonathan Benthall, [...]
The newly-born United States was a disorganized and largely bucolic hodge-podge until three clear-eyed financiers – all of them immigrants – worked to create a new and more monetized system
The great novelist tells the beguiling story of the man he became in order to escape a death sentence
Our book today is Kingsley Amis’ 1954 debut novel Lucky Jim, the recent New York Review of Books re-issue of which prompted a literary friend of mine to lament, “Do we really need this? Am I missing something, or is this thing just a boring, overpraised academia-novel that was never that good to begin with?” This [...]
To find their missing cousin, young heroes Daphne and Ivan must return to the magical land of Lexicon and confront yet more of its brain-teasing adventures.
Our book today is 2005′s The Last Time I Saw Venice, by the indomitable Australian romance novelist Vivienne Wallington, a former librarian who wrote some twenty romances for Mills & Boon under the pen-name of Elizabeth Duke and then did a stint writing Silhouette romances for Harlequin under her own name, this one being (so [...]
Our book today is A Wanderer in Venice by our old friend E. V. Lucas, written in the last halcyon interval the world has ever seen and published just as that interval was ending, in November of 1914. Lucas was an indefatigable writer (as shocking as it will seem to our modern ethics, he even [...]
A new book authorized by the Kennedy Library provides some slices of living history: tapes and transcripts of President John F. Kennedy at work in the White House.
Marsilio Ficino’s enormous commentary on the Parmenides of Plato receives a fantastic scholarly edition from – who else? – Harvard’s I Tatti Renaissance Library
Vultures, black cats, and a gigantic, unbeatable foe: it’s a week in the life of your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man!
Our book today is the oft-revised The World of Venice, originally written by the great British historian and travel-writer James Morris, then revised by him, then substantially re-written when he become Jan Morris, and then revised by her as well – it’s as touched-up as a water-damaged Tiepolo, as fluid and gorgeous a thing as [...]
Homer’s Iliad gets a new and unconventional translation into sometimes very familiar language
Our book today is Wild Nights, the winning little work of urban natural history Anne Matthews wrote in 2001, a smart, informed book that follows in the natural history footsteps of such works as Cathy Johnson’s The Nocturnal Naturalist (and act as precursors to great books like Marie Winn’s Central Park in the Dark) by [...]
A sudsy, salty, saucy Mediterranean memoir comes with a light spray of classical allusions …
Pete Dexter’s lean, harrowing novel of murder and ambition is coming to the big screen with a full complement of movie stars – and a new paperback edition of the book is a happy by-product.
In 1868, Robert Browning completed a long poem about an old murder case …
A magnificent three-volume history of warfare in the West.
Their brains – their digits – their eyes – their locomotion – their families – their staggeringly long reign over the planet Earth: it’s all here, and much, much more. The greatest dinosaur reference work just got even better.
The son of a powerful crime family falls in love with a young woman in the Witness Protection Program – a young woman his family wants dead! Don’t you hate it when that happens?
A stark and powerful account of the killing regimes of Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia – and of the blood-soaked stretch of middle Europe where those regimes did their work.
A slim, engaging new book tries to take an objective look at the popular question of Shakespearean authorship – if such objectivity is even possible.
Dog-torturer Michael Vick writes a triumphalist come-back memoir.
A Dickens-obsessed little Oregon town plays unwilling host to – what else? – a Dickens-themed murder in this captivating mystery debut
During World War Two, thousands of men left U.S. jobs in order to join the military – and thousands of women stepped in to fill those jobs … and in some cases join the military too. A fascinating new book looks at what magazine cartoons had to say about all this.
Now in the U.S.: an epic, gore-spattered series about a roving band of Viking warriors!
Young, vain, unfaithful Catherine Howard, Henry VIII’s fifth wife, regularly draws writers intent on finding heroism in her brief life & times; Carolly Erickson is the latest aspirant.
The meek and dutiful Jane Seymour, mother of Henry VIII’s long-sought male heir, takes center stage in a new historical novel about her life and times.
Tragedy haunted the earliest years of the new Tudor dynasty, and in this atmospheric new novel, a candle-maker and a courier are tasked with finding out why.
The ancient Greek historian Thucydides is virtually synonymous with the Peloponnesian War, but a new history gives the master a much-needed makeover
From the glory days of the late 1980s comes this new reprint-volume of the adventures of Marvel Comics’ imperious, headstrong super-merman, Prince Namor the Sub-Mariner!
Belknap Press produces a big, attractive, and lovingly annotated edition of Jane Austen’s peak-of-her-career novel “Emma” – perfect for newcomers and those who know every line by heart.
In a slim new volume, one of our greatest masters of vibrant exegesis gives is the collected poetry of “the invisible poet of the world” – Jesus Christ.
One of our best popular historians sheds light on the caliphate of Harun al-Rashid, where learning and culture flourished at a time when the West was mired in filth and chaos.
The melodramatic first novel in a series set in a vampire-ridden steampunk version of Victorian London
Now in paperback: the most comprehensive, opinionated, and even-handed biography poor unlucky oath-breaking King Stephen is ever likely to get – or deserve.
A fast-paced teen fiction re-imagining of Peter Pan and Wendy and the Lost Boys and Neverland, with a few side-helpings of goth, “Buffy,” and a certain boy wizard
A comprehensive – and visually stunning – overview of the mighty Roman legions and the world they helped to shape.
An ambitious historical novel about the dark days of the emperor Domitian by the popular mystery author Lindsey Davis.
A lavishly illustrated biography of the Roman emperor Hadrian – now in bookstores in paperback – takes readers inside the world of an empire (and its ruler) undergoing one long identity crisis
Now in a bright yellow paperback: a generous helping of essays, provocations, and tirades by the late Christopher Hitchens.
He started an artist on the path to glory, sold a million toys, and inspired a cult classic movie: He’s Flash Gordon, and his earliest Sunday adventures are getting a deluxe reprint series.
Before the advent of modern times, every visitor to Venice approached the city slowly, from the water – and according to a visually-stunning new book, Venetians very much wanted it that way.
The ancient Roman architect Vitruvius influenced the Renaissance architect Alberti, who in turn influenced the architect Palladio and the humanist Barbaro – a strong new book traces the genealogy.
A new social history of Venice takes readers well beyond the myth and delves into the lives of the people – princes, merchants, women, immigrants – who brought the city to life
Elizabeth I’s radical decision to remain unmarried gave hope to every aspiring suitor in the Western world – a new reprint marches us quickly through the usual suspects.
Lorenzo Valla, whose exposure of the “Donation of Constantine” was the opening salvo of modern humanism, spent years writing one long argument with Aristotle, now fully translated for the first time.
In one of Marvel Comics’ grandest recent story-arcs, the Avengers square off against the Norse god of fear and his mind-controlled hammer-wielding henchmen
DC Comics Classics Library
The Legion of Super-Heroes: The Life and Death of Ferro Lad
Jim Shooter (script)
Curt Swan (art)
Superman: Kryptonite Nevermore
Denny O’Neil (script)
Curt Swan (art)
DC Comics, 2009
The most common misconception about comic books is that they’re …
An emotionally stunning memoir about Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary, where animals once fated for the slaughterhouse are given normal, happy lives
A Buffalo in the House, The Extraordinary story of Charlie and His Family
R. D. Rosen
Random House, 2007
Now out in paperback is R.D. Rosen’s entertaining and enormously moving A Buffalo in the House, the story of …
Best-selling author Philippa Gregory’s new novel tells the story of Anne and Isabel Neville, the Wars of the Roses … and a certain misunderstood bad boy.
An engaging – perhaps a touch too engaging – new biography of fourth four-star general in U.S. history: Phil Sheridan
The passionate, complicated Bronte family is the subject of Juliet Barker’s massive, definitive biography, now given a sumptuous new edition
An accessible, well-researched new biography takes a largely approving look at America’s fourth president, James Madison.
A magnificent multi-voiced celebration of the weird and wild career of that Jacobean jack-of-all-trades, Thomas Middleton
A lively new account of the bloodbath of Towton, one of the key battles of the Wars of the Roses
In the latest spin-off novel from the hit “Spartacus” TV series, a spectre of death is haunting our gladiators even when they’re not at work!
The daughter of Queen Elizabeth I’s chief of espionage has a mind of her own, and in addition to being a dutiful wife to Sir Philip Sidney, she has the makings of an intrepid intelligencer.
All the time-jaunts of the legendary U.S.S. Enterprise, contained – and explained – in one novel? Inconceivable!
The improbable star of Francine Mathews’ new WWII-era spy thriller: a thin, frail, relatively obscure ambassador’s son from Brookline, Massachusetts named Jack Kennedy.
Now in paperback: Juliet Eilperin’s gripping and personality-filled study of sharks and the people who study them
Legion of Super-Heroes: Hostile World
Paul Levitz (script)
Francis Portela (art)
DC Comics, 2012
The company-wide “New 52″ reboot that DC Comics has used to re-envision (and, they hope, revitalize) their comic book line is nearly a year old. …
History’s most famous divorce shook the world and changed history, but it took much more than a king snapping his fingers to make it happen – obscure men on fast horses risked their livelihoods and their lives to line up the paperwork.