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Articles by Steve Donoghue

Book Review: First Over There

May 26, 2015
first over there cover

On a chilly day in late May, 1918, American troops went into battle in the World War I for the first time – a gripping new history tells the story

Penguins on Parade: The Bloody Chamber

May 26, 2015
Penguins on Parade: The Bloody Chamber

Some Penguin Classics come in packages that are ridiculously enticing, and the foremost current example of this has to be the new Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition of Angela Carter’s 1979 short story collection The Bloody Chamber, which here gets an absolutely stunning paperback designed by Lynn Buckley and illustrated in leering, lapel-grabbing black-and-white by Alex […]

Penguins on Parade: The Bloody Chamber

May 26, 2015
Penguins on Parade: The Bloody Chamber

Some Penguin Classics come in packages that are ridiculously enticing, and the foremost current example of this has to be the new Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition of Angela Carter’s 1979 short story collection The Bloody Chamber, which here gets an absolutely stunning paperback designed by Lynn Buckley and illustrated in leering, lapel-grabbing black-and-white by Alex […]

In Paperback: Vesuvius

May 24, 2015
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Now in paperback: a fascinating history of mankind’s interactions with the most famous volcano in the world

Classics Reissued: Gallipoli

May 24, 2015
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The mad debacle of the Dardanelles campaign is now 100 years in the past, and to mark the anniversary, a classic account is reprinted

Book Review: The Great War of Our Time

May 24, 2015
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A former deputy director of the CIA reflects on his time on the front lines in this frustrating memoir

Book Review: The Unraveling

May 24, 2015
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A former key player in the Coalition’s conquest and administration of Iraq reflects on her time there

Penguins on Parade: The Power and the Glory!

May 23, 2015
Penguins on Parade: The Power and the Glory!

Some Penguin Classics have been reprinted so many times in so many formats and years and fads that no further possible textual justification can ever be found for doing it again – instead, publishers have to think outside the book, have to look for nuances of presentation if they want to create something that feels […]

Penguins on Parade: the Holland Herodotus!

May 23, 2015
Penguins on Parade: the Holland Herodotus!

Some Penguin Classics mark a melancholy succession, and works in translation are particularly vulnerable to this. The old cherished translations of great works – the Rosemary Edmonds War and Peace, the E. V. Rieu Homer, the Dorothy Sayers Divine Comedy, and so on – begin to feel almost imperceptibly dated around the edges. If they’re […]

Book Review: The Eye Stone

May 22, 2015
the eye stone cover

A young monk goes on a desperate quest in the 12th century – to a fable city called Venetia

Penguins on Parade: Magna Carta!

May 22, 2015
Penguins on Parade: Magna Carta!

Some Penguin Classics are legitimate scholarly landmarks. Not as many as you might expect, and for the clear reason that the overriding purpose of any classics-reprint line is actually the opposite of originality: a new Introduction here, a pretty new cover there, but the heart of Dover, Signet, Bantam, Penguin and all other reprint lines […]

Book Review: The Obelisk and the Englishman

May 21, 2015
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The pioneering English Egyptologist William Bankes gets a smart and vivacious new biography

Penguins on Parade: The Centurions!

May 21, 2015
Penguins on Parade: The Centurions!

Some Penguin Classics maintain a gruesome kind of relevance, which is surely part of what’s behind the publisher’s decision to bring Jean Larteguy’s 1960 French bestseller Les Centurions back into print, here ushering the book into the Classics line with the Xan Fielding translation (as The Centurions) and a Foreward by Balkan Ghosts author Robert […]

Book Review: Apologetic Writings

May 20, 2015
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In Florence of the 1490s, a ranting Dominican friar picked a fight with the wrong Pope and lost badly. A new I Tatti volume translates the bickering before the bonfire.

Penguins on Parade: The River Between!

May 20, 2015
Penguins on Parade: The River Between!

Some Penguin Classics look so darn elegant in their special anniversary editions, which certainly applies to the 50th anniversary reprint of The River Between, the lean and powerful 1965 debut novel by Kenyan author Ngugi wa Thiong’o, here presented with a new Introduction by Beasts of No Nation author Uzodinma Iweala and sporting a gorgeous […]

Penguins on Parade: The Enchanted April!

May 19, 2015
Penguins on Parade: The Enchanted April!

Some Penguin Classics have perfect timing, and this neat new reprint of Elizabeth Von Arnim’s beloved 1922 bestseller The Enchanted April is a great example. If it had actually reached me in the month of April here in Boston, with the skies still black, the days still freezing, and the streets and parks still piled […]

Book Review: An Ember in the Ashes

May 19, 2015
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A plucky, unlikely teen heroine and a brooding, idealistic teen hero form an unlikely relationship as they fight the oppression of their world in … well, every single YA novel ever written, including this one.

Mystery Monday: Ruso and the Disappearing Dancing Girls!

May 18, 2015
Mystery Monday: Ruso and the Disappearing Dancing Girls!

Our book today is actually a re-read, though you’d never guess to look at it! Just recently at a library book sale (about which more soon) I came across a paperback called Ruso and the Disappearing Dancing Girls by R. S. Downie. The author’s name sounded vaguely familiar (as familiar as it possibly could to […]

Book Review: Fracture

May 17, 2015
fracture cover

In the wake of the First World War, unimaginable energies were unleashed upon the societies of the Western world. A fascinating new book attempts to assess the results.

Romance Roundup: May 2015!

May 16, 2015
Romance Roundup: May 2015!

Our books today take the standard elements of romance novels – the he, the she, the chemistry, the complications, etc. – and add in just about the last ingredient you’d think any romance novel would need: the supernatural. I realize that supernatural romance is still (and possibly forever?) all the rage, but it’s always seemed […]

Romance Roundup: May 2015!

May 16, 2015
Romance Roundup: May 2015!

Our books today take the standard elements of romance novels – the he, the she, the chemistry, the complications, etc. – and add in just about the last ingredient you’d think any romance novel would need: the supernatural. I realize that supernatural romance is still (and possibly forever?) all the rage, but it’s always seemed […]

Book Review: Whirlwind

May 16, 2015
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John Ferling, great historian of 18th century America, here tells the story of the American Revolution itself, in typically riveting fashion

Book Review: The Vorrh

May 14, 2015
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At the heart of this astounding work of fantasy broods a jungle called the Vorrh, a forest so unending that it warps time and steals souls.

The Good, the Bad, and the Petty in the Penny Press!

May 14, 2015
The Good, the Bad, and the Petty in the Penny Press!

Any given issue of the mighty TLS will be an intellectual and even emotional journey, and the 1 May issue was no exception. The showpiece of the issue was the great conductor Leon Botstein reviewing two new books about the composer Franz Schubert, one of which was Ian Bostridge’s Schubert’s Winter Journey, so ably reviewed […]

Classics Reissued: Onward and Upward in the Garden

May 13, 2015
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The quintessential modern classic of gardening-literature gets a very nice reprint

Book Review: A Buzz in the Meadow

May 13, 2015
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A nature enthusiast looks at the countless little lives taking place on his small rural French meadow-farm

Book Review: Theatre of the Unimpressed

May 12, 2015
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A wunderkind of the Canadian theater world writes an impassioned manifesto about everything that’s wrong with the theater world – with better results than you’d expect

Classics Reissued: Cyriac of Ancona

May 12, 2015
cyriac of ancona

During the Italian Renaissance, one enterprising autodidact took it upon himself to track down and transcribe as many inscriptions from the ancient world as he could find

The Vanished Pomps of Yesterday

May 12, 2015
The Vanished Pomps of Yesterday

Our book today goes by the quintessential Steve-book name of The Vanished Pomps of Yesterday, an utterly delightful 1920 “diplomatic memoir” by Lord Frederic Hamilton, a minor younger son of the Duke of Abercorn who could expect little in the way of any inheritance and so entered the British diplomatic corps and duly shuttled around […]

Book Review: Colossus

May 11, 2015
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An Indian driver and his enormous war-elephant experience the treacheries and triumphs of Alexander the Great’s Babylon campaign

Book Review: Cursed Victory

May 11, 2015
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A noted Israeli scholar and ‘refusnik’ writes a reserved and thorough history of the occupied territories

Mystery Monday: Stone Cold Dead!

May 11, 2015
Mystery Monday: Stone Cold Dead!

Our book today is Stone Cold Dead, the third book in James Ziskin’s enormously enjoyable series (from the good folks at Seventh Street Books) chronicling the adventures of Ellie Stone, 25-year-old “girl reporter” for the Republic, the local newspaper for the little town of New Holland in upstate New York in the 1960s. Ellie is […]

Book Review: Note Book

May 10, 2015
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The popular Facebook-poster Jeff Nunokawa now has a book collecting his highlights

Book Review: Corsair

May 10, 2015
corsair cover

In the new novel from James Cambias, a space pirate in the near future – and the enforcer hunting him – encounter something neither one expects

Penguins on Parade: The Jungle Books!

May 10, 2015
Penguins on Parade: The Jungle Books!

Some Penguin Classics celebrate awkward anniversaries, and in the literary world, it looks like no anniversary this side of the publication of Mein Kampf will ever be more awkward than that of Rudyard Kipling, born 150 years ago, whose incredible body of work has been simplified and then vilified under the “Empire jingo” tag for […]

Book Review: John Knox

May 9, 2015
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The firebrand preacher and founder of the Presbyterian denomination is the subject of a masterful new biography

Book Review: When the Heavens Fall

May 9, 2015
when the heavens fall

When a renegade mage steals a powerful book of sorcery, the world of Marc Turner’s fantasy debut is plunged into a disturbing new form of warfare

Penguins on Parade: Tales of the Marvellous and News of the Strange!

May 8, 2015
Penguins on Parade: Tales of the Marvellous and News of the Strange!

Some Penguin Classics are just eye-openingly beautiful, extravagantly so in the case of the recent hardcover Tales of the Marvellous and News of the Strange, the first English translation of a medieval Arabic work called the Hikayat, the manuscript of which was found by a German Arabic scholar in a library in Istanbul and published […]

Book Review: JFK and LBJ – The Last Two Great Presidents

May 8, 2015
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A former British White House correspondent looks back half a century at the two titans who ruled a now-vanished Washington

Book Review: Faith vs. Fact

May 7, 2015
faith vs fact cover

Religion and science – the so-called “non-overlapping magisteria” – are actually deeply adversarial, writes “Why Evolution is True” author Jerry Coyne

That old familiar smell (ing) in the Penny Press!

May 5, 2015
That old familiar smell (ing) in the Penny Press!

There was never any real doubt that I would return to The New Republic even in what Penny Press historians will refer to as the Post-Chotiner Period. After all, the magazine still has an ample Books section, and even though that section is now run by a couple of guys who did themselves no PR […]

Book Review: You Will Never Find Me

May 4, 2015
you will never find me cover

Charles Boxer and Mercy Danquah are both kidnap specialists who’ve solved many tough cases. But in their latest, the missing person is their own daughter – and she doesn’t want to be found

Book Review: The Constitution – An Introduction

May 4, 2015
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The US Constitution – the oldest in the world – gets a comprehensive new biography

Book Review: The Death’s Head Chess Club

May 4, 2015
death’s head chess club cover

Two men meet by chance in a 1960s cafe – and remember a time twenty years earlier when they were captor and prisoner at Auschwitz

Book Review: Vanishing

May 4, 2015
vanishing cover

Is the artist painting heath landscapes in England during World War II a mild-mannered hero of military campaigns or a spy? Gerard Woodward’s spellbinding novel starts there and then travels over the whole of an improbable life story

Penguins on Parade: Hardcover Classics!

May 3, 2015
Penguins on Parade: Hardcover Classics!

Some Penguin Classics break with tradition, almost always to excellent effect. Of course the foremost tradition we all associate with Penguin Classics is the durable, curiously dignified paperback reprints that have been the backbone of the publishing house for well over half a century, and Penguin still produces those in abundance, the finest reprint line […]

Book Review: Where I’m Reading From

May 3, 2015
where i’m reading from cover

The Tim Parks essays collected in this pretty volume range over the whole landscape of the book-world, from endangered copyright to foreign-lit chic to the inescapability of Jonathan Franzen

Book Review: Lords of the Sith

May 1, 2015
lords of the sith cover

In the latest Star Wars novel, Darth Vader and his evil Emperor are trapped on a hostile world, being hunted by man and beast

‘I’m the Top Goddess – How Could I Fail to Make Trouble?’

May 1, 2015
‘I’m the Top Goddess – How Could I Fail to Make Trouble?’

Renowned classicist and historian Peter Green has at last produced a translation of the Iliad – and it comes with its own Greek Chorus. Steve Donoghue investigates.

Book Reivew: Planck: Driven by Vision, Broken by War

April 30, 2015
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Max Planck, the great physicist and father of quantum theory, gets a marvelous and empathetic new biography

Book Review: Stalin: New Biography of a Dictator

April 29, 2015
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A new biography takes advantage of recently-opened Soviet archives

Penguins on Parade: Catullus!

April 28, 2015
Penguins on Parade: Catullus!

Some Penguin Classics, as we’ve noted here at Stevereads a few times in the past, take on a life of their own as translations even when the larger currents of social understanding and the craft of translation have moved on. I was reminded of this just the other day when I encountered a slightly battered […]

Book Review: Infamy

April 28, 2015
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In the wake of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States summarily imprisoned thousands of its Japanese citizens for the duration of the war. Richard Reeves’ passionate new book tells the story

Mystery Monday: The Doll Maker!

April 27, 2015
Mystery Monday: The Doll Maker!

Our book today is The Doll Maker by Richard Montanari (from Mulholland Books), that author’s eight installment in his series of police procedurals set among the mean streets of present-day Philadelphia and starring grizzled police detective Kevin Byrne and his younger, smarter partner Jessica Balzano. This latest adventure opens in a typically gripping fashion, with […]

Book Review: In These Times

April 27, 2015
in these times cover

Jenny Uglow’s new book goes into lively detail about how ordinary people in Britain experienced the cataclysmic events of the wars of the Napoleonic era

Pleasure by the Busload!

April 26, 2015
Pleasure by the Busload!

Our book today is Pleasure by the Busload, a brimmingly delightful work of travel-writing done by Emily Kimbrough in 1961, with whimsical line-drawings by Mircea Vasilu. Kimbrough was famous at the time as one-half of the writing team (along with Cornelia Otis Skinner) of the best-selling 1942 book Our Hearts Were Young and Gay, and […]

Book Review: The Last Days of George Armstrong Custer

April 26, 2015
last days cover

Author Thom Hatch promises mind-blowing new revelations in his book on the Battle of Little Bighorn. And in other news, Rutherford B. Hayes is rumored to be contemplating a run for president.

In Paperback: Saved by the Sea

April 25, 2015
saved by the sea

In his moving account, now in paperback from New World Library, David Helvarg recounts the wonders and wealth of the world’s oceans

Book Review: Of Noble Family

April 25, 2015
of noble family cover

Mary Robinette Kowal’s sparkling “Glamourist” fantasy series comes to a complex and intriguing conclusion

Romance Round-up: April 24, 2015!

April 24, 2015
Romance Round-up: April 24, 2015!

As I ruffled through the stacks of new romance novels on my shelf, still stung by lingering accusations that I unthinkingly favor historicals over other sub-genres, I assembled three new titles that have no historical aspirations at all. These three novels feature iPads, laptops, semi-automatic weapons, and lots and lots of motorcycles, but as I […]

Book Review: Cuckoo: Cheating by Nature

April 24, 2015
cuckoo cover

Cuckoos use other species of birds to raise the young they abandon, and they’ve been doing it for thousands of years without getting arrested. An absorbing new book isn’t precisely rooting for them, but still …

Book Review: The Intimate Bond

April 23, 2015
the intimate bond cover

An extremely winning new book explores the enormous ways eight particular animal kinds have altered the course of human life on Earth

Book Review: Dead Wake

April 22, 2015
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One hundred years ago, a German U-boat sank the RMS Lusitania, with grievous loss of civilian life. The anniversary is observed by one of our best popular historians

Book Review: Princes at War

April 22, 2015
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A chatty, vivacious new book tracks the four sons of the Royal House of Windsor during the years of World War Two

Comics! Bottom’s Up in the Legion!

April 22, 2015
Comics! Bottom’s Up in the Legion!

DC’s company-wide event “Convergence” continues, in which long-abandoned incarnations of their super-characters are temporarily given current issues again, in a kind of multi-part gift to the company’s older, more nostalgic readers. As a result, today’s trip to Boston’s wonderful Comicopia seemed like a flashback to visiting the same twenty or thirty years ago. Longer than […]

Ink Chorus: Leave Me Alone, I’m Reading!

April 21, 2015
Ink Chorus: Leave Me Alone, I’m Reading!

Our book today is Leave Me Alone, I’m Reading, a thoroughly delightful bookish 2005 memoir written by long-time NPR book critic and Washington Post mystery-novel columnist Maureen Corrigan. The book is sub-titled “Finding and Losing Myself in Books,” and if ever a sub-title was fully earned, this one is. The thing is equal parts autobiography, […]

Mystery Monday: Strange Loyalties!

April 20, 2015
Mystery Monday: Strange Loyalties!

Our book today is William McIlvanney’s Strange Loyalties (not, as the last couple of “Mystery Mondays” might lead you to believe, Strange Loyalties … of the Dead!), the third murder mystery novels to feature Detective Inspector Jack Laidlaw, who stalks the mean streets of 1970s Glasgow and is routinely referred to by his superiors on […]

Book Review: Fortune’s Fool

April 20, 2015
fortune’s fool cover

The latest full-dress biography of John Wilkes Booth seeks to get at the flesh-and-blood man beneath the monster

Book Review: The Dream Lover

April 19, 2015
the dream lover cover

The passionate, unconventional life of novelist George Sand forms the backdrop for Elizabeth Berg’s new novel

A Golden Guide to Everglades National Park!

April 18, 2015
A Golden Guide to Everglades National Park!

Our book today is a little gem: the “Golden Regional Guide” A Guide to Everglades National Park and the Nearby Florida Keys (this one is the third printing, from 1962, when Warren Hamilton was the Superintendent of Everglades National Park), written by Herbert Zim and wonderfully illustrated throughout, not only with crisp (albeit tiny) photographs […]

Book Review: Hell from the Heavens

April 18, 2015
hell from the heavens

In April of 1945, the destroyer USS Laffey was bombarded by wave after wave of kamikaze fighters – and yet survived. A gripping new book tells the story of a ship that refused to die

Book Review: The Only Words That Are Worth Remembering

April 17, 2015
the only words cover

In the dystopian future of Jeffrey Rotter’s fantastic novel, Copernican astronomy has been forgotten – but its secrets lie buried under what was once Florida

Good News and Bad News in the Penny Press!

April 16, 2015
Good News and Bad News in the Penny Press!

As obvious as obvious gets, and yet I chuckled aloud over my bai sach chrouk:

Book Review: “They Can Live in the Desert but Nowhere Else”

April 16, 2015
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In time for the hundred-year anniversary of the Ottoman killing of over a million Armenians, a gripping new history tells the whole story of the tragedy

Book Review: Lurid & Cute

April 15, 2015
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The main character of Adam Thirlwell’s new novel has no redeeming qualities whatsoever – and he’s sinfully easy to read about

Book Review: Their Last Full Measure

April 14, 2015
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The tense and frantic final months of the American Civil War forms the backdrop for Joseph Wheelan’s lively new book

The Civilization of the Renaissance!

April 14, 2015
The Civilization of the Renaissance!

Our book today is The Civilization of the Renaissance, the brilliant 1860 masterpiece by Swiss historian Jacob Burckhardt, but it’s not just any edition: I recently found (at my beloved Brattle Bookshop, of course) a copy of the beautiful oversized edition put out by the Phaidon Press in 1939 for the English-language book market in […]

Book Review: Lincoln’s Autocrat

April 13, 2015
lincols autocrat

President Lincoln’s mercurial Secretary of War Edwin Stanton gets a full-dress biography that would have gladdened the heart of anybody who ever wanted to hit him with a shovel

Mystery Monday: The Language of the Dead!

April 13, 2015
Mystery Monday: The Language of the Dead!

Our book today is Stephen Kelley’s The Language of the Dead (the prepositional phrase isn’t explicitly necessary to get your book featured on Mystery Monday, but it obviously doesn’t hurt…), the first in a planned series of murder mysteries taking place in rural England during the Second World War, when food and resources are being […]

Comics: Convergence #1!

April 12, 2015
Comics: Convergence #1!

The latest big crossover event in DC Comics has now well and truly begun, although I’m predictably late getting around to writing about it here at Stevereads. It’s called “Convergence,” and part of the reason I’m late writing about it is that I’m still not entirely clear on what it IS. DC’s previous really big […]

Book Review: James Merrill – Life and Art

April 12, 2015
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The poet James Merrill at long last gets the lavish soup-to-nuts biography he’s always deserved

Book Review: KL

April 11, 2015
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The sprawling system of concentration camps established by the Nazis gets its first comprehensive history

Book Review: The Ransom of the Soul

April 11, 2015
the ransom of the soul cover

In his new book, Peter Brown offers a provocative and fascinating new look at the evolution of the Christian idea that you can be helped in the next life by how much moolah you fork over in this one

Romance Roundup: April 2015!

April 10, 2015
Romance Roundup: April 2015!

Our books today are three new romances hot off the presses, and they quite accidentally nagged at a small corner of my guilty conscience when it comes to my foremost guilty pleasure. In the past, veteran romance readers have accused me of disproportionately favoring historical romances over all other kinds, and although I initially bridled […]

Book Review: Visions and Revisions

April 10, 2015
visions and revisions cover

From the novelist, critic, and columnist Dale Peck comes a series of autobiographical essays and reflections about life during the height of the AIDS epidemic

Book Review: Madness in Civilization

April 9, 2015
madness in civilization cover

A fantastic, important new study traces the history of insanity in human history

Book Review: France 1940

April 8, 2015
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The military collapse of France in 1940 has been a punch line and byword for decades, but a provocative new book argues that the traditional view is too simple

A Preface to Donne!

April 7, 2015
A Preface to Donne!

Our book today is another slim little thing, James Winny’s 1970 entrant in Scribners’ old “Preface” series, A Preface to Donne, which at the time joined John Purkis’s A Preface to Wordsworth and Lois Potter’s excellent A Preface to Milton – and which was needed more thoroughly than either volume, as any even casual student […]

Book Review: One of Us

April 7, 2015
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In 2011, a man detonated a bomb in Oslo and then shot dozens of people on a nearby island before surrendering to police. A vivid new book tells the whole story of the victims – and the killer

Book Review: Bonaparte, 1769-1802

April 6, 2015
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A gigantic new biography chronicles the rise-to-power of Napoleon Bonaparte

Mystery Monday: Inspector of the Dead!

April 6, 2015
Mystery Monday: Inspector of the Dead!

Our book today is Inspector of the Dead, the latest novel from former University of Iowa stalwart (and the man who introduced the character of Rambo to an unsuspecting world) David Morrell. It’s the second murder mystery of his that features one of the least likely detectives of them all: Thomas De Quincey, the notorious […]

Book Review: Hitler’s Shadow Empire

April 5, 2015
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In 1936 Nazi Germany poured money and manpower into backing General Franco in the Spanish Civil War; a new history powerfully re-interprets that fraught relationship

Book Review: Ministers at War

April 4, 2015
ministers at war cover

A new book tells the story of the War Cabinet Winston Churchill assembled to fight the Second World War

Book Review: Secret Warriors

April 3, 2015
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Beyond the battles and trenches of the First World War, a dozen less glamorous but no less vital fights were being waged – in laboratories and darkrooms and publishing offices. A vibrant new book tells the story of the other World War I

Book Review: King John and the Road to Magna Carta

April 2, 2015
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800 years ago, King John “Lackland” sealed Magna Carta and unwittingly laid the foundation for some of Western law; a new book takes a fresh look at this much-maligned figure

Book Review: The Baltic

April 1, 2015
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For more than a thousand years, the sprawling area of the Baltic has played host to history, art, and fitful commerce – a new history tells the story.

Press Enter

April 1, 2015
Press Enter

Author Jacob Silverman contends in his new book that the intrusions of social media into our private lives has reached sometimes intolerable extents. But what does he mean by “intolerable”? And who is he counting as “our”?

Book Review: American Burke: The Uncommon Liberalism of Daniel Patrick Moynihan

March 31, 2015
uncommon liberalism cover

American senator, author, and statesman Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s complex and constantly-evolving political philosophy is the subject of a pointed new book

Journey Into Summer!

March 31, 2015
Journey Into Summer!

Our books today are testaments to hope: Edwin Way Teale’s 1951 North with the Spring and his 1960 Journey into Summer. In both books, Teale and his wife Nellie make an unorthodox and brilliant decision: rather than stay home and experience all the nuances of the seasons on their own immediate area, they follow the […]

Book Review: Washington’s Circle

March 30, 2015
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A fantastic new book tells the story of President Washington and the extraordinary team he assembled to form the new nation’s first administration

Mystery Monday: Dry Bones in the Valley!

March 30, 2015
Mystery Monday: Dry Bones in the Valley!

Our book today is a lean, moody debut mystery novel, Dry Bones in the Valley by Tom Bouman, and it’s the latest in an ominously popular new sub-sub-genre, “rural noir”: dark and sordid murder-and-violence plot lines taking place not in far-flung exotic locales but rather just forty miles off the interstate, in the most depressed […]

The Green Dragoon!

March 29, 2015
The Green Dragoon!

Our book today is The Green Dragoon, a 1957 book by Robert Bass, and it illustrates a very good impromptu rule of book-buying: never pass up a book with a title like The Green Dragoon. This particular Green Dragoon is about Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton, who commanded the so-called British Legion during the American Revolution […]

Book Review: Galileo’s Telescope

March 29, 2015
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One little spyglass – only four fingers long – changed the world; a sparkling new book tells the story of Galileo’s “recounting of the stars”

Book Review: Ravensbruck

March 28, 2015
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In 1939 the Nazis established their only concentration camp specifically for women; a comprehensive new book tells the history of Ravensbruck

Yours Ever!

March 28, 2015
Yours Ever!

Our book today is Thomas Mallon’s 2009 love-letter to letters, Yours Ever, and it was brought to my mind by the sudden realization that I myself am now finished with postal correspondence. A good friend of mine, a little old lady who reviews the same novel every week for the Silver Spring Scold, has moved […]

Book Review: We All Looked Up

March 27, 2015
we all looked up cover

The high school students in Tommy Wallach’s fantastic debut face more than graduation and an uncertain job market: they face an honest-to-gosh killer asteroid

Ink Chorus: Days of Reading!

March 26, 2015
Ink Chorus: Days of Reading!

Our book today is a pretty little thing from the Penguin “Great Ideas” series, Days of Reading by Marcel Proust, here translated and abridged and pasted together by John Sturrock back in 1988. These “Great Ideas” volumes wonderfully relished in the narrow focus: a few essays, a few excerpts along key themes, and they were […]

Book Review: The Big Trial

March 26, 2015
the big trial cover

From Lizzie Borden to O. J. Simpson, big public show-trials have fascinated the American people. In his new book, renowned legal historian Lawrence Friedman tries to dissect why that is.

Rome for Ourselves!

March 25, 2015
Rome for Ourselves!

Our book today is a charmer from the coffee tables of yesteryear: it’s Rome for Ourselves by Aubrey Menen, a delightful, highly personal 1960 look at the history of the Eternal City, written by one of its most remarkable citizens at the time. Menen was born in London in 1912, the son of an Indian […]

Book Review: The Architect’s Apprentice

March 25, 2015
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A young boy and his gorgeous white elephant become apprenticed to the greatest architect of the Ottoman Empire in this stunning new novel by the author of “The Bastard of Istanbul”

Book Review: On Elizabeth Bishop

March 24, 2015
on elizabeth bishop cover

In the latest Princeton “Writers on Writers” installment, novelist Colm Toibin writes about poet Elizabeth Bishop

Book Review: Duplicity

March 23, 2015
duplicity cover

In N. K. Traver’s exciting debut, a young cyber-hacker finds his life steadily being commandeered – but his own reflection in the mirror.

The Second Stevereads Book Outlet Box-Haul!

March 22, 2015
The Second Stevereads Book Outlet Box-Haul!

Our books today are the proceeds from my latest Book Outlet haul, done in my ongoing pining hopes of someday being cool enough to be on BookTube, where such hauls are a standard part of the landscape! Even this early in my association with the site, my shopping has developed certain rules: first, the price […]

Book Review: Notes from a Dead House

March 22, 2015
notes from a dead house cover

Dostoevsky’s great semi-fictionalized prison memoir gets a sterling new translation from the superstar team of Pevear and Volokhonsky

Book Review: Young Eliot

March 21, 2015
young eliot cover

A lavishly-detailed new biography shows us Thomas Stearns Eliot in his slightly fussy, slightly feckless pre-fame years

Book Review: The Fortunes of Francis Barber

March 20, 2015
thefortunes of francis barber cover

One of the only two people at the deathbed of Samuel Johnson was a young ex-slave to whom Johnson was, in his testy way, devoted. A new book finally gives Francis Barber the biography he’s always deserved

Supergirl!

March 20, 2015
Supergirl!

Our book today is the 2007 Supergirl volume of DC Comics’ “Showcase Presents,” which was brought to my mind by the recent announcement of a live-action WB TV “Supergirl” series coming up soon, starring a pleasant-faced young woman named Melissa Benoist (and also starring, in a bit of a casting coup, Dean Cain, who played […]

Book Review: What Stands in a Storm

March 19, 2015
what stands in a storm cover

A new book details the terrible destruction caused by a record-breaking series of tornadoes that struck the American South in 2011

Book Review: The Fifth Heart

March 18, 2015
fifth heart cover

In Dan Simmons’ latest fantastic novel, Henry James finds himself teamed up with fiction’s most famous detective, Sherlock Holmes, in order to solve a very real – and very heartbreaking – mystery.

Quacks and Pingbacks in the Penny Press!

March 18, 2015
Quacks and Pingbacks in the Penny Press!

I’ve had occasion to comment many times here at Stevereads about some of the contradictions that seem hard-wired into the particular magazine sub-genre of the lad-mag “men’s” titles. They routinely feature ‘back to basics’ articles teaching their audience of over-salaried douche-dudes how to strip away the clutter from their lives and live simply and organically, […]

Book Review: The War That Used Up Words

March 17, 2015
the war that used up words

At the outbreak of the First World War, American writers flocked to Europe and headed for the Western Front in order to find their Muse – and to make some quick cash. A new book follows a handful of these earliest chroniclers

Book Review: Akhenaten & The Origins of Monotheism

March 16, 2015
akhenaten & the origins of monotheism

The rebel pharaoh who instituted a radical new monotheism gets a highly-detailed and revisionist investigation

Book Review: The Wide World’s End

March 15, 2015
wide-worlds-end

In the concluding volume of James Enge’s gripping fantasy trilogy, a band of unlikely heroes is caught between warring godlike beings in a world quickly tearing itself apart

On Crime Writing!

March 14, 2015
On Crime Writing!

Our book today is another skimpy little thing, a 1973 Capra chapbook combining two essays by the crime fiction writer who worked under the pen name of Ross MacDonald, and although it fits in with our deep-breath respite from enormous whopping volumes, it’s also undeniable in this case that we probably don’t want this particular […]

Book Review: Hissing Cousins

March 14, 2015
hissing cousins cover

The daughter of the first President Roosevelt and the wife of the second President Roosevelt had a long and sometimes cross-purposed relationship. A new book dishes the old dirt.

The Fur Hat!

March 13, 2015
The Fur Hat!

Our book today is a bit of an antidote to the massive doorstops we’ve been dealing with recently here on Stevereads: it’s The Fur Hat, a 120-page 1989 novella by caustic and sometimes brilliant Russian writer Vladimir Voinovich, here translated into English by Susan Brownsberger. The book is a treat of hangdog sarcasm. It tells […]

Book Review: The Red Queen

March 13, 2015
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In a dystopian future, a plucky young woman from a poor village suddenly finds herself at the heart of the corrupt power system and the focal point of a rebellion in “The Hunger Ga-” um, in Victoria Aveyard’s “The Red Queen.”

Book Review: I Hate Myselfie

March 12, 2015
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Wildly popular YouTube phenomenon Shane Dawson now has a BOOK!

In the Modern Library: Keats & Shelley!

March 12, 2015
In the Modern Library: Keats & Shelley!

Our book today is another whopper from the days of the old manilla-covered Modern Library era: The Complete Poems of Keats & Shelley, for those times when you want pages and pages of these near-exact contemporaries all running together, rather than hunting up your Oxford completes or your Penguin selects. Although the heft of this […]

Book Review: Goldeneye

March 11, 2015
they call me squire

Ian Fleming bought a run-down villa in Jamaica and used it as the workshop – and backdrop – for his world-famous James Bond novels. A new book takes us inside the world of Goldeneye

In the Modern Library: W. H. Prescott!

March 11, 2015
In the Modern Library: W. H. Prescott!

Our book today is a biggie, a doorstop: it’s the combined volume Modern Library did of William Hickling Prescott‘s The History of the Conquest of Mexico and his The History of the Conquest of Peru. Prescott finished the first in 1843 and the second in 1847, and neither is exactly skimpy in terms of heft […]

Book Review: Oscar Wilde’s Chatterton

March 10, 2015
the death of chatterton

For over a century, Oscar Wilde’s notebook on Thomas Chatterton has been regarded as a ‘smoking gun’ of Wilde’s plagiaristic tendencies. A new book radically re-examines the issue

In the Modern Library: Bulfinch’s Mythology!

March 10, 2015
In the Modern Library: Bulfinch’s Mythology!

Our book today is a truly perennial classic, Bulfinch’s Mythology, a book that’s been consistently in print since it first appeared – and one of those curious items whose own author wouldn’t have recognized it. It’s a one-volume collection of three books by Thomas Bulfinch: The Age of Fable (1855), The Age of Chivalry (1858), […]

Book Review: The Tapestry

March 9, 2015
the tapestry cover

Joanna Stafford – niece of an executed man and distant cousin to King Henry VIII – is called to court, where she immediately becomes the focal point of deadly intrigues

Mystery Monday: Viper!

March 9, 2015
Mystery Monday: Viper!

Our book today is Viper, the latest Giovanni de Maurizio murder mystery from Europa Editions. It’s the sixth installment in the series starring sad, intense young Commissario Ricciardi of the 1930s Naples police force. The sub-title of this one is “No Resurrection for Commissario Ricciardi,” and fans of the series – among which in Boston […]

Book Review: John the Pupil

March 8, 2015
john the pupil cover

Three impressionable young 13th-century Franciscans embark on an improbably odyssey to bring a momentous manuscript to the Pope

Six for Snow-Struck Boston!

March 8, 2015
Six for Snow-Struck Boston!

The sun was shining yesterday in Boston, which was so strange after the last 90 days that I looked at the city, seeing it with the fresh realization that Boston has managed to survive a genuine battering of storms and cold and storms and cold. It wasn’t an easy survival, of course, and it was […]

Book Review: The Violent Century

March 7, 2015
Tidhar-ViolentCenturyUS-Blog

In a world very much like our own, super-powered clandestine operatives vie with each other on missions to save or destroy humanity

Book Review: Rust

March 6, 2015
rust cover

Every day, all around us, everything solid is inexorably corroding into powder. A game new book takes readers inside the surprisingly fascinating world of rust

The David Foster Wallace Reader

March 6, 2015
The David Foster Wallace Reader

Our book today is a truly beautiful thing from 2014, The David Foster Wallace Reader, a collaboration between Little, Brown and Wallace’s literary trust that aims to create a “Greatest Hits collection of novel excerpts, short fiction, an essays that we hope will delight readers who know Wallace’s work already and show those new to […]

Book Review: A Great and Terrible King

March 5, 2015
great and terrible king ukcover

He established Parliament, hammered the Scots, expelled the Jews, and inspired centuries of biographers – England’s King Edward I gets a lively new biography

The First Stevereads Book Outlet BOX-HAUL!

March 5, 2015
The First Stevereads Book Outlet BOX-HAUL!

A little while ago, having been trapped indoors by ten-foot snow drifts for a week or two or three, I decided to spend my $5 coupon and go shopping at Book Outlet again, just the way all my favorite enthusiastic young BookTubers do! I browsed for a few days (it’s oddly time-consuming, clicking back through […]

Penguins on Parade: The Life of the Buddha!

March 4, 2015
Penguins on Parade: The Life of the Buddha!

Some Penguin Classics open up windows on alien worlds, and they do so every bit as effectively as the very best sci-fi and fantasy, but through radically different means: by showing us what was, not what wasn’t. A perfect demonstration of this would be the slim and elegant new Penguin Classic edition of Tenzin Chogyel’s […]

Book Review: The Fall of the Ottomans

March 4, 2015
fall of the ottomans uscover

The Ottoman Empire joined the fighting of the First World War deeply misunderstood by both sides; a charismatic new book seeks to clarify the story of that odd meeting of East and West

Ink Chorus: Books of the Century!

March 3, 2015
Ink Chorus: Books of the Century!

Ink Chorus Our book today is one of the de facto Bibles of the Ink Chorus: Books of the Century, a 2000 update of the 1998 anthology of book reviews and author interviews from the first century of the New York Times Book Review, a great big book with a hideous cover, edited by Charles […]

Book Review: The Next Species

March 3, 2015
the next species cover

Species arrive, thrive, and then go extinct – but after the long and frightful reign of Homo sapiens … what?

Book Review: Lady of the Eternal City

March 2, 2015
lady of the eternal city cover

Sabina, the wife of the enigmatic Roman emperor Hadrian, is beset by enemies in Rome – and safeguards a secret they’d all kill to know …

Mystery Monday: Lamentation!

March 2, 2015
Mystery Monday: Lamentation!

Our book today is Lamentation by C. J. Sansom, the latest of his books to feature the sleuthing adventures of his hunchback Tudor-era lawyer Matthew Shardlake, following Heartstone way back in 2010. This series began with the quietly wonderful 2003 novel Dissolution, and all the strengths so abundantly on display in that first book have […]

Book Review: Barbarian Spring

March 1, 2015
barbarian spring cover

A businessman is on a trip to new-money Tunisia when the world’s economy goes into meltdown…

A Stevereads Alphabet!

March 1, 2015
A Stevereads Alphabet!

Thanks to the technical wizardry of Open Letters Monthly‘s newest editor, Robert Minto, March debuts a spiffy new look for Stevereads, its first top-to-bottom re-design in almost ten years! To mark the occasion, I thought I’d present a Stevereads alphabet to help orient the hordes of new readers Robert has unconditionally guaranteed me will be […]

Blame the Dog

March 1, 2015
Blame the Dog

When Homo sapiens appeared in Europe 45,000 years ago, most of the long-established species there – including the Neanderthals – began to disappear. Did Homo sapiens wipe them out? And if so, did they have help from somebody right there in your living room?

Book Review: The Girl on the Train

March 1, 2015
girl on the train cover

In this New York Times bestseller, a hapless woman spots a mysterious event from the window of her commuter train and is soon caught up in a police investigation.

Comics: To Wake the Mangog!

February 28, 2015
Comics: To Wake the Mangog!

Our book today goes by a title Stevereads has already anointed as alluring: To Wake the Mangog! (I added the exclamation point that the book’s own packagers shamefully omitted) – it’s a thick volume in Marvel Comics’ ongoing “Epic Collection” series of color reprints from the archives. This is the fourth “Epic Collection” of Thor […]

Book Review: Killers of the King

February 27, 2015
killers of the king cover

Under the direction of Oliver Cromwell, dozens of men deliberated to execute the captive King Charles I, and when Charles II came to power a decade later, those men were suddenly in the gravest danger. A fascinating new book tells their stories.

Book Review: Shadow

February 26, 2015
shadow cover

In the second volume of Will Elliott’s fantastic “Pendulum” trilogy, a large and engaging cast of characters fight to survive in a world drastically out of balance

Book Review: The Reagan Era

February 25, 2015
the reagan era cover

A new book takes an intense look at the presidency of Ronald Reagan

Book Review: Hereward – The End of Days

February 24, 2015
End-of-Days-cover

Driven into hiding by the victorious forces of William the Conqueror, the heroic Hereward the Wake and his band of freedom fighters must struggle to survive

Book Review: Peaks on the Horizon

February 23, 2015
peaks on the horizon cover

A gripping new book takes readers inside the fabled – and troubled – land of Tibet

Book Review: American Reckoning

February 22, 2015
Book Review: American Reckoning

A harrowing new book looks at the many spaces the Vietnam Was has occupied in the American mental landscape

Penguins on Parade: Penguin 60s Classics!

February 22, 2015
Penguins on Parade: Penguin 60s Classics!

Some Penguin Classics were custom-made to be very handy for traveling, which makes them extra-poignant in the Boston of February 2015, in which nobody packs bags or quick satchels because travel of any kind is impossible and has been for many, many weeks. All flights into or out of Logan Airport have been cancelled, and […]

Book Review: The Accidental Empress

February 21, 2015
accidental empress cover

A strong-willed Bavarian princess captures the eye of the young Austro-Hungarian emperor in Allison Pataki’s opulent new historical novel. Steve Donoghue reviews.

Book Review: The Interstellar Age

February 20, 2015
interstellar age cover

Nearly 40 years ago, the Voyager spacecraft left Earth bearing cameras to photograph the solar system – and messages of greetings to the wider galaxy. A terrific new book tells the story of a great human adventure

The first Stevereads Book Outlet book haul!

February 20, 2015
The first Stevereads Book Outlet book haul!

Our books today comprise a small Stevereads landmark: my very first book-haul from Book Outlet! As some of you will know, I’m delighted to spend time watching all the enthusiastic young people (and a few old enough to know better!) over in the nerdy, inordinately friendly corner of YouTube known as “BookTube.” I love the […]

Book Review: Cold War Modernists

February 19, 2015
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The clashes of the Cold War weren’t just matters of missiles and border guards; they also enlisted honey-voiced broadcasters, drunken novelists, and bookish magazine editors, as a fascinating new book makes clear

A Spurt of Outrage in the Penny Press!

February 19, 2015
A Spurt of Outrage in the Penny Press!

    Nothing warms up the icy snowbound ventricles quite like a burst of outrage, and I got one of those recently when I encountered a block of pure editorial cowardice in the Penny Press. Specifically, it was in the 5 February 2015 issue of the London Review of Books (although the cover is misprinted […]

Book Review: Kings and Emperors

February 18, 2015
kings and emperors cover

In Dewey Lambdin’s latest rousing Alan Lewrie adventure, our dashing hero sees action off the coast of a Spain imperiled by Napoleon

Book Review: The Summit – Bretton Woods, 1944

February 17, 2015
the summit cover

In 1944 a contentious group of delegates gathered in New Hampshire in order to lay out a blueprint for the postwar world economy; a great new history tells the story of Bretton Woods

Book Review: A Darker Shade of Magic

February 16, 2015
A Darker Shade final for Irene

In V. E. Schwab’s new fantasy novel, a young man can travel between a string of alternate-reality Londons

Book Review: Machiavelli

February 15, 2015
Book Review: Machiavelli

An engaging new book looks at that perennial fascination for biographers, Niccolo Machiavelli

Visions of the End!

February 15, 2015
Visions of the End!

Our book today is one we turn to with some bitterness: The Poetic Edda, or Elder Edda, that medieval treasure-house of Norse mythology. After a week of fawningly propitiating a certain Deity Who shall remain nameless, and after having it amount to squat as a vicious “snow hurricane” struck poor, shivering Boston just the same, […]

A Stack of Bibles!

February 14, 2015
A Stack of Bibles!

Sometimes, when it comes to propitiating the Deity, circumstances warrant going right to the top – and with poor wretched Boston staring wide-eyed at the latest ferocious oncoming “monster storm,” today seemed like one of those times. So with fear and trembling, I crept to my bookshelves and assembled the proverbial stack of Bibles on […]

Book Review: The Strategist

February 14, 2015
the strategist cover

Two-time National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft kept a low profile (and a negligible paper trail) throughout a lifetime in Washington power-dealing; a compelling new book profiles the ultimate Oval Office insider

Book Review: Making Nice

February 13, 2015
making nice cover

In Matt Sumell’s debut, his main character manages to alienate every other person in the book, often by punching them.

Book Review: The Cultural Lives of Whales and Dolphins

February 12, 2015
cultural lives of whales and dolphins cover

In the vastness of the world’s oceans, some mammals have evolved brains and language … and culture? A fascinating new book looks at the inner lives of whales and dolphins

Pelican Scriptural Commentaries!

February 12, 2015
Pelican Scriptural Commentaries!

Our propitiation of Boston’s suddenly-wrathful Deity continues today with yet more Pelican Scripture Commentaries! I recently looked back at the Big Four, the long Gospel commentaries Pelican put out half a century ago, but in the course of nervously plucking them off my snowbound bookshelves, I came across plenty of secondary Pelican commentaries, several of […]

PELICANS! The Pelican Gospel Commentaries!

February 11, 2015
PELICANS! The Pelican Gospel Commentaries!

Our books today are the four hefty volumes that constitute the core of the old Pelican Gospel Commentaries, and we turn to them with a kind of cold-sweat urgency: as the endless snow continues to fall, as the very infrastructure of Boston begins to crumble, Stevereads continues its perhaps-futile bid to appease the peevish Deity […]

Book Review: Table Talk

February 11, 2015
table talk cover

For twenty-five years, the “Table Talk” feature of The Threepenny Review has offered occasional musings on a wide range of topics by some of the best freelance writers and critics in the business. A new hardcover collects a generous helping of highlights

Penguins on Parade: The New Testament!

February 10, 2015
Penguins on Parade: The New Testament!

Some Penguin Classics are the only ones you can turn to when your city has incurred the wrath of the Almighty, as Boston so clearly has in this apocalyptic February of 2015, which has so far seen just a few inches short of 500 feet of snow. At such times, my book-hunting lapsed Catholic fingers […]

Book Review: Simply Good News

February 10, 2015
simply good news cover

The latest book from New Testament scholar N. T. Wright presents a passionate new appraisal of the “good news ” of the Christian Gospels

Book Review: Amherst

February 9, 2015
amherst cover

When a 21st-century woman travels to the hometown of Emily Dickinson, she finds herself caught between a passionate present and a past far more human than she imagined

February 2015!

February 8, 2015
February 2015!

February 2015!

February 8, 2015
February 2015!

Book Review: The Great Zoo of China

February 8, 2015
the great china zoo cover

A small group of Americans visit a super-secret Chinese nature-park with a very unusual star attraction.

Penguins on Parade: Twentieth-Century Classics!

February 7, 2015
Penguins on Parade: Twentieth-Century Classics!

Some Penguin Classics – as several of you readers have pointed out to me, hopeless bookworms that you are – revamp earlier Penguin Classics, as is certainly the case with the Penguin Modern Classics I just recently wrote about: the line is a kinda-sorta updating of Penguin’s old “Twentieth-Century Classics” line, a little shorter on […]

Book Review: Gods, Guns, Grits, and Gravy

February 7, 2015
gods guns cover

Former governor and presidential candidate Mike Huckabee offers a plea for understanding the ‘flyover states’ where, he claims, real people lead real lives

Book Review: Thieves’ Road

February 6, 2015
thieves road cover

Two years before he gained fame in the most painful way imaginable at the Battle of Little Bighorn, George Armstrong Custer led a large expedition into the Black Hills sacred to the Sioux – in search of gold

Book News: The Literary Hub!

February 6, 2015
Book News: The Literary Hub!

One item in the book news today is something you might have seen in the Wall Street Journal, a story with a dispiritedly wayward lede: Publishers have faced a vexing question in recent years: As newspapers’ book coverage shrinks and fewer people shop in brick-and-mortar bookstores, how might publishers open a conversation with readers online, […]

Book Review: Turtle Face and Beyond

February 5, 2015
turtle face and beyond

The author of “Dogwalker” returns with a new collection of interlinked short stories that revel in their own straight-faced absurdity

Book Review: Unbecoming

February 4, 2015
unbecoming cover

In this arresting debut, a young woman working in Paris is hiding from her past – and she worries that the old friends she betrayed are hunting her.

Penguins on Parade: The Modern Classics!

February 3, 2015
Penguins on Parade: The Modern Classics!

Some Penguin Classics just look so nice! This has surely been noticed by the younger generation of printed-book buyers, whose Book Depository-roving eyes have been caught time and again by the recent redesign of the Penguin Modern Classics run. In a canny inversion of the now-venerable black-spined design of the main Penguin Classics line, these […]

Book Review: The Dogs Are Eating Them Now

February 3, 2015
the dogs are eating them now cover

One of the most experienced reporters to cover the war in Afghanistan writes up his experiences

Ink Chorus: Enemies of Promise!

February 2, 2015
Ink Chorus: Enemies of Promise!

Our book today is Cyril Connolly’s 1938 masterpiece of snark and summation, Enemies of Promise, which largely baffled its critics when it first appeared and has survived them all, as Connolly himself sometimes predicted it would in his tipsier moments. The book is split into three long sections, the first, “The Predicament,” being a tour […]

Book Review: Phantom Terror

February 2, 2015
phantom terror cover

In his new book, historian Adam Zamoyski paints a picture of a Europe convulsed with fear of upheavals like the French Revolution and the tyranny of Bonaparte – and willing to do anything to prevent them

Book Review: A Superpower Transformed

February 1, 2015
superpower transformed cover

A paradigm-shifting new book looks at the turbulent decade of the 1970s in United States politics and the re-shaping of the world

These Pictures are Themselves Little Souls

February 1, 2015
These Pictures are Themselves Little Souls

A new reprint line from the New York Review of Books concentrates on literature from – and on – China’s long literary history, and the first three volumes offer the strange, the familiar, and the beautiful.

From the Archives: The Latest from Yasnaya Polyana

February 1, 2015
tolstoy

With so many versions of War and Peace to choose from, is there anything that translators can do to set themselves apart? Yes, says Steve Donoghue, they can make old mistakes.

Conflicts of Interest in the Penny Press!

January 31, 2015
Conflicts of Interest in the Penny Press!

I’ve often been asked – indeed, I often ask myself – why on Earth I’d continue to read a magazine as politically zealous, not to say crackpot, as the National Review, and my answer – given a few times even here on Stevereads – is that I try my best to ignore the frong half […]

Book Review: The extraordinary journey of the fakir who got trapped in an Ikea wardrobe

January 31, 2015
extraordinary journe cover

A slim picaresque novel that was a runaway bestseller in France gets a stylish English-language translation

Book Review: One Nation, Under Gods

January 30, 2015
one nation cover

From the Puritans and their city on a hill to the Mormons to modern-day charlatans, the story of the United States is the story of competing faiths; a lively new book looks at that complicated tapestry

Froude’s Life of Henry VIII!

January 30, 2015
Froude’s Life of Henry VIII!

Our book today is a squat, brick-red little triple-decker, the three-volume life of Henry VIII that Everyman editor W. Llweleyn Williams carved out of 12-volume history of England written from 1856 to 1870 by the great J. A. Froude. Williams knew what he was about; Froude’s book – the unabridged edition of which is out […]

Book Review: The Age of Consequences

January 29, 2015
age of consequences cover

An environmentalist writes an energetic and – despite everything – optimistic clarion call to better and smarter thinking about how mankind can ease its disastrous impact on nature

Book Review: Half-Life

January 28, 2015
half-life cover

In 1950 a prominent Western nuclear physicist disappeared – and re-surfaced years later in the Soviet Union, helping the Russians to develop their atomic arsenal. A gripping new book tells the story of a traitor who was also a genius

Book Review: Like A Bomb Going Off

January 27, 2015
like a bomb going off cover

Revolutionary Russian choreographer Leonid Yakobson fought prejudice, rivals, and the omnipresent Soviet censors to pursue his art, as a magnificent new book narrates

Penguins on Parade: The Portable Emerson!

January 26, 2015
Penguins on Parade: The Portable Emerson!

Some Penguin Classics are updates or revisions of things that were themselves already classics, and that can be nerve-racking for a long-time fan of the Penguin line such as myself. I love the ongoing march of new editions, don’t get me wrong – I’m always the first person telling my bookish friends that some new […]

Book Review: Galapagos Regained

January 26, 2015
Galapagos Regained

A true believer in the tenets of Darwinism in the 19th Century goes on what amounts to a pilgrimage to that great Darwinian destination, the Galapagos Islands, in James Morrow’s glowing new novel

Fleeting Frustration in the Penny Press!

January 25, 2015
Fleeting Frustration in the Penny Press!

Some days in the Penny Press are more frustrating than others, of course, and sometimes those weeks offer clear signals of their intent to get my knickers in a twist. This happened just yesterday, in fact, when I took my first clear look at Barry Blitt’s imbecilic cover to the 26 January New Yorker, which […]

Book Review: Ocean Worlds

January 24, 2015
ocean worlds

World after world detected by powerful long-range telescopes are being shown to possess oceans – probably radically different from those of Earth; a new book looks at water worlds, our own and others

Comics: The Latter Days!

January 23, 2015
Comics: The Latter Days!

I ventured to the comics shop again this week, lured by the prospect of interesting new graphic novel collections (there weren’t any that I could see), and I walked out with two new Marvel comics, Avengers #40, written by Jonathan Hickman and drawn by Stefano Caselli, and Fantastic Four #642, written by James Robinson and […]

Book Review: White Plague

January 22, 2015
whtie plague cover

Only one man can possibly save a plague- and fire-stricken sub that’s burning and adrift at the top of the world …

Book Review: Unbreakable

January 21, 2015
unbreakable cover art by stephanie martiniere

When young Promise’s family is killed on their peaceful frontier planet, she signs up with the space-Marines – as one tends to do in such circumstances

Book News: Book Club!

January 21, 2015
Book News: Book Club!

One item of book news today is something you’ll all likely have seen: as the second book in his online book club, Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg has chosen Steven Pinker’s 2011 book The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined, in which Pinker lays out his biggest, most dip-shitty counter-intuitive flap-doodle ever and waits patiently for […]

Book Review: Thieves of State

January 20, 2015
thieves of state cover

When states engage in corruption – and condone it in other states – they fuel exactly the kind of tensions that, short of war, are the only things that can threaten those states; a stunning new book examines the kinetics of wrongdoing

Comics – The Marvel Star Wars!

January 20, 2015
Comics – The Marvel Star Wars!

Last week I naturally succumbed to the hoopla and bought the first issue of Marvel Comics’ new “Star Wars” comic book (my comics-related posts here on Stevereads really do need to be closer to Wednesday – which, for all you non-virgins out there, is New Comics Day here in Boston – and I’ll work on […]

Mystery Monday: The Dogs of Rome!

January 19, 2015
Mystery Monday: The Dogs of Rome!

Our book today is The Dogs of Rome, Conor Fitzgerald’s 2010 debut mystery novel starring Commissario Alec Blume, who was born and raised in America but who, 17 years ago, lost his parents to the gunfire of a violent bank robbery while visiting Rome. A grief-stricken young Blume joined the police force instead of returning […]

Book Review: The Whispering Swarm

January 19, 2015
the whispering swarm cover

The legendary fantasy author Michael Moorcock returns after a long absence to the genre he helped to create

Book Review: The Middle Ages

January 18, 2015
the middle ages cover

A nimble and tremendously engaging history of the Middle Ages finally gets translated into English

Book Review: Frog

January 17, 2015
frog cover

China’s one-child social policy forms the grim backdrop to Nobel Prize-winning novelist Mo Yan’s latest translated novel

The Song of Hiawatha – and Other Poems!

January 16, 2015
The Song of Hiawatha – and Other Poems!

Our book today is one of the improbable gems from the old Reader’s Digest “World’s Best Reading” series, the 1989 volume The Song of Hiawatha and Other Poems, here decked out with lavish illustrations (lovely textured pictures and spot illustrations of “The Song of Hiawatha” itself by Frederic Remington, for instance, and Howard Chandler Christy’s […]

Book Review: Blood-Drenched Beard

January 16, 2015
blood-drenched beard cover

In this newly-translated hit from Brazil, a young man goes in search of what really happened to his grandfather

Book Review: Medieval Christianity

January 15, 2015
medieval christianity cover

An accessible new scholarly history looks at the millennium during which Christianity ruled the West

Ink Chorus: The War Against Cliche!

January 14, 2015
Ink Chorus: The War Against Cliche!

Our book today is The War Against Cliche, the bottomlessly entertaining 2001 collection of many of the for-hire literary essays and book reviews the novelist Martin Amis wrote between 1971 and 2000, and taken as a snapshot of the working life of a semi-faineant freelancer (I’d wager that Amis actually only needed the paycheck – […]

Book Review: Outline

January 14, 2015
outline cover

A writing instructor takes a brief trip to Athens in Rachel Cusk’s much-praised new novel

Book Review: Taking on Theodore Roosevelt

January 13, 2015
taking on

A lively, authoritative new book examines one of the darkest stains on the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt

Pulps in the Penny Press!

January 13, 2015
Pulps in the Penny Press!

Naturally, reading Louis Menand’s story in the January 5 New Yorker, “Pulp’s Big Moment,” sent me irresistably to my own bookshelves, specifically to the bookcases of mass-market paperbacks I’ve been ruthlessly pillaging lately (as I’ve aggrievedly mentioned already, nobody needs four different mass market paperback copies of Mansfield Park; the ability to resist the urge […]

Mystery Monday: Sugawara Akitada!

January 12, 2015
Mystery Monday: Sugawara Akitada!

  Our books today are the utterly delightful Sugawara Akitada mysteries of I. J. Parker, set in the Heian heyday of 11th-Century Japan and starring brainy but frustrated Sugawara Akitada, a low-level clerk in the Ministry of Justice whose father died while he was studying at university and who is therefore compelled to act as […]

Book Review: A Pleasure and a Calling

January 12, 2015
pleasure and calling cover

A small-town’s mild-mannered real estate agent isn’t done with your house after he’s sold it to you – in Phil Hogan’s new novel, he keeps a spare key, and he snoops around while you’re away

Book Review: Schubert’s Winter Journey

January 11, 2015
schubert’s winter journey olweekly 2015

Schubert’s haunting song-cycle “Winterreise,” composed while he was mortally ill, was a mystery to his friends upon its first hearing. He assured them they’d grow to love it, and, in his latest book, Ian Bostridge certainly has

Book News: The Gatekeepers!

January 11, 2015
Book News: The Gatekeepers!

One piece of the day’s book-news comes, unfortunately, in the form of a windy, tweedy, leather elbow-patched throat-clearing in Slate by former Random House poo-bah Daniel Menaker, who’s upset – in his phlegmatic way – about the upshot of the much-publicized contest between Amazon and Hachette and Amazon’s unseemly desire “to have a say in […]

Book Review: Black River

January 10, 2015
black river cover

In S. M. Hulse’s debut novel, a former prison guard in small-town Montana is traumatized by the events of a riot the happened years ago

Book Review: The Man Who Couldn’t Stop

January 9, 2015
man who couldn’t stop cover

According to modern medical diagnostics, thousands of people suffer (to varying degrees of severity) from OCD, and yet the science of understanding the condition is maddeningly vague – as science writer David Adam reports

Book Review: The Last Warrior

January 8, 2015
last warrior cover

Decade after decade, one man has worked at the heart of the Pentagon, advising a long string of presidents and cabinet ministers about the role of American power in the world. A new book brings his story out of the shadows.

Book Review: Glow

January 7, 2015
glow cover

Ned Beauman’s new novel takes readers on a wild ride from London drug-raves to international conspiracies, with some extra-intelligent foxes thrown in along the way

Yesterday’s News in the Penny Press!

January 6, 2015
Yesterday’s News in the Penny Press!

Beginning any new year always means batting clean-up on the odds and ends of the old year, and this latest transition was no different: I wrapped up my annals of the Penny Press in mid-December, but the Penny Press didn’t know that – it kept pouring into the sainted Open Letters Monthly Post Office box […]

Book Review: Why the Romantics Matter

January 6, 2015
why the romantics matter cover

A new handbook in the Yale series enlists a famous biographer to analyze the appeal of the Romantic movement

Penguins on Parade: The House of the Dead!

January 5, 2015
Penguins on Parade: The House of the Dead!

  Some Penguin Classics don’t really seem to need updating. One such solid-looking piece of work is the translation David McDuff did for Penguin Classics of Fyodor Dostoevsky’s 1860 novel The House of the Dead. That translation appeared in 1985, and it – and all other translations of this particular book – are suddenly threatened […]

Book Review: A Bad Character

January 5, 2015
a bad character cover

A proper young woman in Delhi meets a slightly improper young man – and a tragic, mesmerizing love story is born in this accomplished debut

Book Review: Leonardo, Michelangelo, and the Art of the Figure

January 4, 2015
Ruben’s copy of the Battle of Anghiari

In 1503, the city of Florence commissioned two artists to paint the walls of their city hall – two men named Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci. A new book assesses the after-effects of this greatest of all artistic competitions.

The Grand Inventory!

January 3, 2015
The Grand Inventory!

Our books today are … all of them, every book I currently possess here in the quaint, white-painted confines of Hyde Cottage. Over the course of 2014 in particular, I was reminded again and again of a process every bit as mysterious and insidious as the disappearance of odd socks from the dryer: the steady, […]

Book Review: How to Read the Solar System

January 2, 2015
how to read the solar system cover

A easily-accessible new guidebook to our home solar system

Comics: Action Comics – What Lies Beneath

January 1, 2015
action comics 3

The revamped Man of Steel embarks on a new series of adventures in Action Comics

Book Review: The Revenant

January 1, 2015
revenant cover

The scout for a fur-trapping party in 1823 is mauled by a bear and left for dead – but he doesn’t die, which is very bad news for the fur-trapping company in Michael Punke’s super-effective novel

Harm Him, Harm Me

January 1, 2015
Harm Him, Harm Me

Historical novelist Andrew Levkoff stuffs the last installment of his “Bow of Heaven” trilogy with battles, love, loyalty betrayed, crucifixion, cross-purposes, loyalty regained, and deep reflections on what it all means.

Book Review: Dublin – The Making of a Capital City

December 28, 2014
dublin us cover

David Dickson’s comprehensively researched, readable book details the long and complicated history of Dublin

Book Review: American Apocalypse

December 26, 2014
amer apoc cover

A new history presents a history of 20th-Century American radical evangelism that will go down very well on the Liberty University campus

Book Review: Enter Pale Death

December 18, 2014
enter pale death cover

An enormous, bad-tempered horse tramples to death the wife of its aristocratic owner – but Joe Sandilands of Scotland Yard comes to suspect foul play in Barbara Cleverly’s new mystery

Thanks again!

December 16, 2014
Thanks again!

As I’ve mentioned a couple of times along the course of our epic journey, I read more new books in 2014 than in any previous year of my life, and that preponderance re-shaped the very topography of my reading itself. The rough balanced that had held for many, many years, a more-or-less equality between new […]

Book Review: Renegade Revolutionary

December 15, 2014
renegade revolutionary

He was ugly, ill-dressed, and eccentrically fond of dogs – but he was also the most experienced military man in the American colonies, restlessly chaffing under the command of George Washington. He was General Charles Lee, and a wonderful new book tells his story.

Best Books of 2014 – Nonfiction!

December 15, 2014
Best Books of 2014 – Nonfiction!

This is a tricky category, of course; it wanders over its nearest borders with a good deal of recklessness. Some of this year’s top Nonfiction picks might just as easily qualify as history, for example some species of sociology, or even biography, but against its oddness I every year lay its unfailing ability to get […]

Worst Books of 2014 – Nonfiction!

December 14, 2014
Worst Books of 2014 – Nonfiction!

This year’s list of the worst malefactors in the Republic of Letters in 2014 could really have been boiled down to one entrant (which will become evident, and which all of you should be heartily ashamed of making so popular), and that entrant perfectly typifies exactly the same kind of cold-eyed arrogance that characterized the […]

Book Review: Chaucer’s Tale

December 13, 2014
chaucer’s tale cover

Long before he would be venerated as the father of English poetry, Geoffrey Chaucer had a really, really bad year. An engaging new book tells the story of how he coped – and the great work that followed.

Best Books of 2014 – Fiction!

December 13, 2014
Best Books of 2014 – Fiction!

There are some years when the practitioners of fiction seem almost embarrassed by their profession – not because that profession still hasn’t turned its back on own charlatans, but rather because it sometimes seems like the reading public itself is increasingly turning its back on their profession in favor of pap. I’ve lost count of […]

Worst Books of 2014: Fiction!

December 12, 2014
Worst Books of 2014: Fiction!

It’s always a lurking danger when dealing with novels, novelists being by nature the vilest narcissists this side of book reviewers, but this year it runs the table in the “Worst Fiction” department: arrogance. Specifically, the belief on the author’s part that they, and not their stories, are the proper object of their readers’ attention. […]

Book Review: The Life of Roman Republicanism

December 11, 2014
the life of roman republicanism cover

A new book looks at the writings of Cicero, Sallust, and Horace to understand the mind of their times.

Best Books of 2014: Biography!

December 11, 2014
Best Books of 2014: Biography!

This, as long-time Stevereads readers (and my long-suffering friends) may know, is the nerve center of my reading, my favorite of the genres in which I roam. More than historical fiction, which I’ve actually written (and whose self-published ranks I regularly patrol as the U.S. “Indie” Editor for the redoubtable Historical Novel Review), and more […]

Best Books of 2014 – History!

December 10, 2014
Best Books of 2014 – History!

It’s always when I read a lot of history (and I read more new history in 2014 than in any previous year of my life) that I wonder even more intensely than usual why anybody would ever read anything else. Here, after all, are the stories of mankind in all its unpredictable voracity, told by […]

Best Books of 2014: The History & Biography Honor Roll!

December 9, 2014
Best Books of 2014: The History & Biography Honor Roll!

The genre of fiction in 2014 was too anemic to warrant an Honor Roll, but this wasn’t the case at all for other genres, many of which fielded works so strongly they readily overflowed the arbitrary 10-title limit of my ‘Best’ lists. In 2014, Honor Rolls were easily possible for four or five such genres, […]

Best Books of 2014: Fiction Debuts!

December 8, 2014
Best Books of 2014: Fiction Debuts!

As I’ve mentioned in previous years, the health of the debut fiction field is often an excellent gauge of the health of the whole book-scene (the vigor and inventiveness of reprints being another). Hardcover books are, after all, obscenely expensive, and a first-time author is a chance, a speculation – not something an increasingly timid […]

Best Books of 2014 – World War One!

December 7, 2014
Best Books of 2014 – World War One!

The arithmetic that governs centennial celebrations in the Republic of Letters is schoolishly simple: you start with one (1) bromide, you multiply it by ten (10) factoids gleaned from Wikipedia, you increase that total by the number of readers who are likely to know anything at all about your subject (Arabic civilization gave us the […]

The Best of 2014: In the Penny Press!

December 6, 2014
The Best of 2014: In the Penny Press!

The roll call of periodicals I read was grimly undiminished in 2014. The list – currently National Geographic, The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, The New York Times Book Review, GQ, Esquire, Vanity Fair, New York Magazine, Men’s Journal, Outside, The London Review of Books, Bookforum, Publisher’s Weekly, Harper’s, The Rolling Stone, […]

Book Review: Massacre

December 5, 2014
massacre cover

In 1871, thousands of aggrieved Parisians banded together to create an independent socialist community lodged inside their home city, and it functioned as a living dream – until it was brutally destroyed. A new book tells the story of the Paris Commune.

Best Books of 2014: Guilty Pleasures!

December 5, 2014
Best Books of 2014: Guilty Pleasures!

Laying out the ground rules for a new category like “Best Guilty Pleasures” almost necessitates defining such a thing as “guilty pleasures” just in general, I realize, and that’s always trickier than it seems, especially if you’re trying to avoid a lazy fall-back like Justice Potter Stewart’s offhand definition of pornography, I know it when […]

Best Books of 2014: Romance!

December 4, 2014
Best Books of 2014: Romance!

The book-snobs among you – and you know who you are – will no doubt raise an eyebrow at the fact that “Best Romance” is a separate category from “Guilty Pleasures.” “Surely,” such book-snobs will sniff, “all romance novels are guilty pleasures? Surely a genre with no pretensions to literary quality can’t be anything but […]

Best Books of 2014: Nature!

December 3, 2014
Best Books of 2014: Nature!

The danger of nature-writing in 2014 is glaringly obvious: nature itself is in full retreat on most parts of the planet. Species are going extinct at a rate unseen in millions of years; environments are being destroyed so quickly that the deterioration can be measured year by year and sometimes month by month; animal species […]

Best Books of 2014: Reprints!

December 2, 2014
Best Books of 2014: Reprints!

In a trend that’s continued for three years now, I read more new books this year than in any previous year of my life, a very drastic change from the many years when I read virtually no new books at all, and a big enough change even from as recent as ten years ago, when […]

The Stevereads Year-End List: A General Prologue!

December 1, 2014
The Stevereads Year-End List: A General Prologue!

December begins here in Boston as all other months now do, with bright sunlight, shirtsleeve weather, and not the smallest hint of wind or moisture – like Tempe, only with a Dunkin’ Donuts every 500 feet. But December of course has one distinctive feature: it signals the end of another year, the swift winding-down of […]

Star Trek: Foul Deeds Will Rise

December 1, 2014
conscience of the king

An older Captain Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise-A voyage to the edge of the Federation to help two warring planets make peace – and there they encounter a long-lost figure from their past

Pointez, Pointez!

December 1, 2014
Pointez, Pointez!

Hugely talented biographer Andrew Roberts has written a big biography of Napoleon Bonaparte – but when it comes to such a well-known figure, are readers in danger of fatigue de bataille?

Book Review: Chinese Love Poetry

November 26, 2014
chinese love poetry cover

A pretty new anthology dips into the vast Chinese poetic tradition

Penguins on Parade: The Analects of Confucius!

November 26, 2014
Penguins on Parade: The Analects of Confucius!

Some Penguin Classics become immediately indispensable. They so firmly supplant all previous editions of their particular work that those previous editions become curiosities, interesting in only ancillary ways. A notable recent example of this would be the Royall Tyler translation of The Tale of the Heike, and now the Penguin imprint clearly has another: a […]

The Resurrection of the Dead

November 24, 2014
The Resurrection of the Dead

  The Resurrection of the Dead   We are buried below with everything we did, with our tears and our laughs. We have made storerooms of history out of it all, galleries of the past, and treasure houses, buildings and walls and endless stairs of iron and marble in the cellars of time. We will […]

Book Review: Islam and Nazi Germany’s War

November 24, 2014
islam and nazi germany’s war

A revelatory new book explores the uneasy dealings the Third Reich had with the thousands of Muslims who suddenly found themselves under Nazi rule

Book Review: The War of 1812

November 24, 2014
war of 1812 cover

A fiery new history seeks to reclaim the lost honor of both Andrew Jackson and the Battle of New Orleans

Book Review: A Land of Aching Hearts

November 24, 2014
a land of aching hearts

When the chaos of the First World War swept over the Middle East, it disrupted patterns of life that had been steady for centuries – and left conflicts that roil still today

By Small and Small: Midnight to 4 A. M.

November 23, 2014
By Small and Small: Midnight to 4 A. M.

For eleven years I have regretted it, regretted that I did not do what I wanted to do as I sat there those four hours watching her die. I wanted to crawl in among the machinery and hold her in my arms, knowing the elementary, leftover bit of her mind would dimly recognize it was […]

Book Review: Married to the Viscount

November 23, 2014
married to the viscount old cover

She’s convinced they’re married; he’s adamant they’re not. Let the Regency games begin!

Book Review: The Viscount Who Lived Down the Lane

November 23, 2014
viscount stepback

What an unruly, monstrous house cat hath joined together, let no man put asunder!

Book Review: To Save a Viscount

November 23, 2014
to save a viscount cover

England’s newest viscount has an assassin’s target pinned to his new title, and the spies who accidentally put it there now have a nobleman to protect

Book Review: Ataturk in the Nazi Imagination

November 20, 2014
ataturk in the nazi imagination cover

It’s well known that Hitler looked to Mussolini’s success in Italy as a model for his own fascism, but a fascinating new book details the lesser-known fact that Hitler had another model as well – an earlier and more exotic one.

Book Review: Fear City

November 17, 2014
fear city cover

F. Paul Wilson’s supremely capable action-hero, “Repairman” Jack, wasn’t always the kneecap-crushing arm-breaking, bad guy-defenestrating paragon his legions of fans know and love; once upon a time, he was a kneecap-crushing, arm-breaking, bad guy-defenestrating neophyte with a dream. “Fear City” takes us back to 1993.

Book Review: The Good War

November 16, 2014
the good war us cover

The war in Afghanistan began promisingly – and then dragged on, fell apart, and limped to a quasi-ending. A lively new book narrates the story

Six for the Books!

November 15, 2014
Six for the Books!

Ink Chorus The dear old Guardian the other day published what the kids call a “listicle” – basically a themed list of items air-pumped into roughly the dimensions of an actual column – on a subject near to my heart: good books about books and reading, and I was right away reminded of a good three […]

Book Review: Ardor

November 15, 2014
ardor cover

Intellectual polymath Roberto Calasso’s latest translated work is an exploration of the ancient hymns and verses of the Vedas

Book Review: Chain of Events

November 13, 2014
chain of events cover

In this thriller, two specialists discover an unbelievable revelation written into the genetic code of all living things

Books in My Baggage!

November 13, 2014
Books in My Baggage!

Ink Chorus Our book today is Lawrence Clark Powell’s utterly delightful 1960 book Books in My Baggage, one of his follow-ups to his very popular earlier work of literary musings, A Passion for Books. I thought about this one lately because I’ve been low-grade fuming for a while now about the purblind convservatism of that […]

Book Review: Chief Executive to Chief Justice

November 12, 2014
chief executive to chief justice

William Howard Taft was the only man to be both President of the United States and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and a new book tells the story of the overlooked years in between

Book Review: America’s Pastor

November 11, 2014
america’s pastor cover

For half a century, preacher Billy Graham was an unofficial spiritual advisor to presidents and rock stars; a new biography attempts to assess his impact on mainstream American religious thought

Approaching hoofbeats!

November 11, 2014
Approaching hoofbeats!

No doubt some of you spotted the item in your newsfeeds: a recent article noting that both Amazon and Publisher’s Weekly have already produced their lists of the Best Books of 2014, despite the fact that the year still has two months to go. This is of course both canny and craven; on the one […]

Book Review: WWII – A Chronicle of Soldiering

November 10, 2014
james jones wwii cover

Fifty years ago, the author of “From Here to Eternity” wrote a vivid, impressionistic account of the Second World War, and that fascinating book now enjoys a new edition

Comics! If Asgard Falls …

November 10, 2014
Comics! If Asgard Falls …

Our story today is a corker from 1968: “If Asgard Falls …” from Thor Annual #2, written by Stan Lee and drawn by Jack Kirby (with customarily perfect inks by Vince Colletta), the kind of fine hammy high fantasy that always best suits this strangest of all the original crop of Marvel superheroes Lee & […]

Book Review: Captive Paradise

November 8, 2014
captive paradise cover

James Haley’s new history takes up the oft-told story of the Hawaiian Islands

Comics: Bram Stoker’s Dracula!

November 8, 2014
Comics: Bram Stoker’s Dracula!

On 8 November we honor the birthday of Bram Stoker, the author of the immortal 1897 novel Dracula, which brought Dracula and humanity-stalking vampires to the popular imagination and lodged them there so firmly that “Dracula” and “vampire” have become easy synonyms. Dracula has of course been packaged and re-packaged a million times, adapted for […]

Book Review: Fire and Movement

November 6, 2014
fire and movement cover

The British Expeditionary Force in the First World War has accrued a great many legends over the last century; Peter Hart’s new account aims to delete the mythology – and still preserve the heroism

Old Curmudgeons in the Penny Press!

November 6, 2014
Old Curmudgeons in the Penny Press!

There’s a certain kind of purity-of-the-turf book-article that I expect to encounter on a regular basis in the Penny Press, and yet even though I expect it, the encounters are always a bit depressing. The theme never changes: I’m an old-fashioned reader; I’ll never cozy up to these new-fangled electronic books or electronic reading gizmos, […]

Echoes aplenty in the Penny Press!

November 4, 2014
Echoes aplenty in the Penny Press!

One of the little joys of book-reviewing is finding “echoes” of your own reviews in somebody else’s Table of Contents. My beloved Open Letters Monthly, though well-respected in the industry, is virtually unknown outside it (except perhaps for those curious browsers who find one of our blurbs on some new paperback), so it’s extra-pleasing for […]

About Boston!

November 3, 2014
About Boston!

Our book today is David McCord’s charming 1948 volume About Boston, a warmly affectionate look at Boston written by a Harvard graduate and long-time professional Harvard booster (and fundraiser! Good Grief, the man could get a donation-check out of a potted geranium) McCord, who was most famous in his own day as a charming poet, […]

Book Review: Bee Time

November 3, 2014
cover-Bee-Time

An enjoyable new book draws some unexpected parallels between human society and the world of bees

Penguins on Parade: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow!

November 2, 2014
Penguins on Parade: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow!

Some Penguin Classics are welcome back in new reprints as often as opportunity allows; indeed, the persistence of their reappearances gives us one of the signature comforts of a canon. These works keep getting reprinted, we’re reassured, because some works deserve to be reprinted regularly. We can certainly think of the new Penguin Classics edition […]

Book Review: The Slow Regard of Silent Things

November 2, 2014
Untitled-14

The bestselling author of the “Kingkiller Chronicles” turns in a short novella devoted to one of his fan-favorite characters

Penguin on Parade: The Penguin Book of Witches!

November 1, 2014
Penguin on Parade: The Penguin Book of Witches!

Some Penguin Classics are amazing original productions, which is an odd thing to say about the world’s best line of reprints. A perfect example – and a timely one, considering the Halloween/Samhain double-whammy that strikes most of the West today – is the new Penguin Book of Witches, a fantastic original anthology of key original […]

Book Review: Eugene O’Neill – A Life in Four Acts

November 1, 2014
eugene o’neill cover

A punchy and intensely readable new biography of America’s greatest playwright