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Articles by Steve Donoghue

Book Review: Snowden

September 2, 2015
snowden2

The life of infamous NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden, in comic book form

Book Review: Self and Soul

September 2, 2015
self and soul

A spirited defense of humanist intangibles in a culture obsessed with material gain

The Cape at Summer’s End!

September 1, 2015
The Cape at Summer’s End!

Our book today is This Quiet Place, a 1971 book whose author, seasoned journalist and biographer (and Martha’s Vineyard native) Everett Allen subtitled “A Cape Cod Chronicle” – so naturally, on the first of September, my eyes found it on my shelves, since it’s always at this time of year that I find myself thinking […]

Book Review: A River Runs Again

September 1, 2015
a river runs again

The huge environmental problems facing India form the backdrop for Meera Subramanian’s fantastic first book

Book Review: The Gates of Evangeline

September 1, 2015
the gates of evangeline

A mother grieving the loss of her own son investigates the 30-year-old disappearance of a powerful Southern family’s little boy in this haunting debut

“I am eager to play chess – I have mastered nine skills”

September 1, 2015
“I am eager to play chess – I have mastered nine skills”

At the beginning of the 19th century, a small trove of elaboratedly carved chess pieces was uncovered on a remote beach – a lively new book traces the history and strange charisma of the Lewis chessmen.

Book Review: Mycroft Holmes

August 31, 2015
mycroft holmes

A debut adventure starring the smarter older brother of Sherlock Holmes

Book Review: Chasing the Phoenix

August 30, 2015
chasing the phoenix

Michael Swanwick’s terrific new novel features a con artist and a genetically modified dog-man seeking riches and power in a post-post-apocalyptic China

Book Review: Agents of Empire

August 30, 2015
agents of empire

In the continents-spanning 16th-century clash between Venice and the Ottoman Empire, a crucial role was played by Albania – and by two families at the heart of events

Book Review: The Automobile Club of Egypt

August 30, 2015
the automobile club of egypt

The celebrated author of “The Yacoubian Building” returns with another panoramic look at life in modern Egypt during a pivotal era

Book Review: The Daughters

August 29, 2015
the daughters

In Adrienne Celt’s remarkably rich debut novel, an opera singer is worried that the birth of her daughter has robbed her of her singing voice

Book Review: The Trials

August 29, 2015
the trials

In the wake of professional betrayal and global catastrophe, the heroes of Linda Nagata’s “Red” Trilogy are confronted by a new threat as the series barrels on

Book Review: Death in Florence

August 29, 2015
death in florence

At the end of the 14th century, Lorenzo de’ Medici and the friar Savonarola began a series of clashes in palace and pulpit that would end up altering the course of the city’s history. A lively new book tells the story.

Comics: Clinging to Art!

August 27, 2015
Comics: Clinging to Art!

Both the big superhero comic book companies, Marvel and DC, are currently in continuity turmoil that would be shocking if it weren’t so crucially boring. And it makes the weekly trip to my beloved Comicopia here in Boston a bit of a trial. Gone beyond reclamation – almost beyond recall – are the days when […]

Hope and Pope in the Penny Press!

August 26, 2015
Hope and Pope in the Penny Press!

  The latest issue of Harper’s very much wanted me to pay most of my attention to William Deresiewicz’s cover essay on how colleges and universities these days have been co-opted by a “neo-liberal” agenda that infests institutions of higher learning – and how the students themselves have also been co-opted by this agenda, now […]

Book Review: Browsings

August 26, 2015
Book Review: Browsings

Book critic Michael Dirda’s latest collection offers more personal musings on the subject he loves most

Classics Reissued: Salvaged Pages

August 25, 2015
salvaged pages

A new edition of this collection of Holocaust diaries by young people captures the voices and the worries of the Nazis’ most innocent victims

The Cape at Summer’s End!

August 25, 2015
The Cape at Summer’s End!

Our book today is My Own Cape Cod, which Gladys Taber wrote in 1971 about her many idyllic seasons at Still Cove, her house on Mill Pond at Orleans on Cape Cod. We’ve met Taber already here at Stevereads as the once-popular author of the Stillmeadow books (hence the name of her cove), and in […]

Mystery Monday: The White Ghost!

August 24, 2015
Mystery Monday: The White Ghost!

Our book today is The White Ghost, the latest historical mystery by James R. Benn starring Bostonian ex-detective and now WWII Lieutenant Billy Boyle. In this tenth Billy Boyle adventure (each one of which easily stands alone for new readers), Boyle and his friend Lieutenant Piotr Augustus Kazimierz, an expatriate Polish count who functions as […]

Book Review: Bismarck

August 24, 2015
bismarck ullrich

A newly-reprinted biography of the “Iron Chancellor” Otto von Bismarck is noticeably short – what kind of a job does it do?

Book Review: Beirut, Beirut

August 23, 2015
beirut, beirut

Bloomsbury publishes a lovely new English-language translation of Sonallah Ibrahim’s great novel about the Lebanese Civil War

Book Review: The Casualties

August 23, 2015
the casualties

You wouldn’t bet on a little street in Edinburgh – or its eccentric inhabitants – surviving a series of world-battering catastrophes, but that’s both the starting and the ending point of Nick Holdstock’s fascinating first novel

Book Review: After Nature

August 22, 2015
after nature

In his brilliant new book, Jedediah Purdy argues that humanity must face the collapse of nature using the three tools it knows best: politics, policy, and cold, hard cash

The English Dog at Home!

August 21, 2015
The English Dog at Home!

Our book today, Felicity Wigan’s oversized 1987 treat The English Dog at Home (with beautiful photographs by Geoffrey Shakerley) might more accurately have been titled The English Dog at the Stately Home, since the dogs in question aren’t exactly the spavined little mutts owned by every Darby and Joan in the tenements of Leeds. No, […]

Book Review: Under Tiberius

August 20, 2015
under tiberius

In a dusty Vatican archive, an ancient manuscript is found that could change the world. Or whatever.

Book Review: No. 4 Imperial Lane

August 20, 2015
no. 4 imperial lane

The woes of empire and the decline of the aristocracy form the backdrop for Jonathan Weisman’s smart and moving debut novel, set in Thatcher’s England.

90 Years of New Yorker Cartoons in the Penny Press!

August 20, 2015
90 Years of New Yorker Cartoons in the Penny Press!

On newsstands now, as the saying goes, is one of my very favorite semi-regular Penny Press confections: a New Yorker cartoon collection. This one is meant to commemorate the magazine’s 90th anniversary (as unbelievable as that figure must seem to some of us), and (equally unbelievable, in its own way) this seems to be the […]

90 Years of New Yorker Cartoons in the Penny Press!

August 20, 2015
90 Years of New Yorker Cartoons in the Penny Press!

On newsstands now, as the saying goes, is one of my very favorite semi-regular Penny Press confections: a New Yorker cartoon collection. This one is meant to commemorate the magazine’s 90th anniversary (as unbelievable as that figure must seem to some of us), and (equally unbelievable, in its own way) this seems to be the […]

Book Review: The End of Tsarist Russia

August 19, 2015
the end of tsarist russia

A powerful new book by one of our best historians examines from new sources the torturous path Russia took to the First World War

The Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World!

August 19, 2015
The Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World!

Our book today is Sir Edward Creasy’s durable 1851 classic work of popular military history, The Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World, a worthy work that no 21st-century reader can approach without feeling just about the saddest irony in the world. Creasy, surveying the sunny morning of his Victorian era, with Napoleon Bonaparte long since […]

The Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World!

August 19, 2015
The Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World!

Our book today is Sir Edward Creasy’s durable 1851 classic work of popular military history, The Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World, a worthy work that no 21st-century reader can approach without feeling just about the saddest irony in the world. Creasy, surveying the sunny morning of his Victorian era, with Napoleon Bonaparte long since […]

The Height of Fashion in the Penny Press!

August 18, 2015
The Height of Fashion in the Penny Press!

After a solid week of Penguin Classics, what better palate-cleanser could there be than a sojourn through the Fall Fashion issues of the glossy magazines? It’s a way to run a quick finger down the ‘content’-xylophone from the deeper notes of Longfellow and Dostoevsky to, well, to the very, very strange world of fashion. Almost […]

Book Review: Still Life Las Vegas

August 18, 2015
still life las vegas

In this funny and touching debut, a young man’s search for his missing mother leads to unexpected discoveries amid the lights of Las Vegas

Penguins on Parade: Crime and Punishment – Deluxe!

August 17, 2015
Penguins on Parade: Crime and Punishment – Deluxe!

Some Penguin Classics, as we noted last time, come along as almost indisputable improvements on what’s come before (‘almost’ because there’ll always be a few token refusniks in any crowd, don’t you know), and in the case of the last item in our Week of Penguins,  the new Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition of Dostoevsky’s Crime […]

Book Review: The Madagaskar Plan

August 17, 2015
the madagaskar plan

In an alternate history in which an undefeated Nazi Germany controls vast portions of Africa, a cast of old friends and enemies come together amid rumors of a devastating new kind of bomb …

Penguins on Parade: A Woman in Arabia!

August 16, 2015
Penguins on Parade: A Woman in Arabia!

Some Penguin Classics are clear, almost necessary improvements on their own Penguin predecessors, and we’ll be closing out our week of Penguins with two of those – starting with a new collection of the writings of Gertrude Bell called, somewhat redundantly, A Woman in Arabia: The Writings of the Queen of the Desert. The volume […]

Book Review: The Red

August 15, 2015
the red

The hero of Linda Nagata’s nifty new series is hard-wired to his battle-armor … but is something else hiding in the connection?

Penguins on Parade: The Life and Passion of William of Norwich

August 15, 2015
Penguins on Parade: The Life and Passion of William of Norwich

Some Penguin Classics have horrible tidings to convey. In the broader game of literature, there’s no real way around that. On paper, all books are like the spirits in the underworld encountered by Ulysses: they need human blood in order to give them the power to speak. Printed words never stole a man’s property or […]

Book Review: Under Another Sky

August 14, 2015
under another sky

Part history, part travel guide, part novel – a wonderful new book takes readers on a tour of Roman Britain

Book Review: Pedigree

August 14, 2015
pedigree cover

Yale University Press publishes a 2005 memoir by the 2014 winner of the Nobel Prize for literature

Penguins on Parade: The All-Pervading Melodious Drumbeat!

August 13, 2015
Penguins on Parade: The All-Pervading Melodious Drumbeat!

Some Penguin Classics, as we’ve seen over the years, abruptly thrust their readers into bewilderingly alien territory. For every well-known novel by a Bronte sister, in these thrillingly multi-cultural days, Penguin’s editors will cast their eyes to Africa or China, and the result is a growing library of diverse texts to keep readers very profitably […]

Book Review: Ashoka in Ancient India

August 13, 2015
ashoka in ancient india

The great ancient Indian emperor Ashoka gets a splendid new biography that attempts to divine the man at the heart of the legend

Book Review: Barbarian Days

August 12, 2015
barbarian days cover

Veteran New Yorker writer William Finnegan has written a captivating memoir of surfing and growing up

Penguins on Parade: The Selected Poems of Longfellow!

August 12, 2015
Penguins on Parade: The Selected Poems of Longfellow!

Some Penguin Classics, as we mentioned last time, are lost causes right out of the starting gate, and if such a thing applies to Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Aurora Leigh, how much more does it apply to this wonderful 1988 Penguin volume edited by Lawrence Buell, who wrote last 2014’s fantastic book The Dream of the […]

Penguins on Parade: The Selected Poems of Longfellow!

August 12, 2015
Penguins on Parade: The Selected Poems of Longfellow!

Some Penguin Classics, as we mentioned last time, are lost causes right out of the starting gate, and if such a thing applies to Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Aurora Leigh, how much more does it apply to this wonderful 1988 Penguin volume edited by Lawrence Buell, who wrote last 2014’s fantastic book The Dream of the […]

Penguins on Parade: Aurora Leigh!

August 11, 2015
Penguins on Parade: Aurora Leigh!

Some Penguin Classics preach a doomed gospel to the masses, and one of them that does this most self-consciously is Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s 1856 novel-in-verse Aurora Leigh, here presented in the lovely 1995 black-spine Classic edited by John Robert Glorney Bolton and his daughter Julia Bolton Holloway with a picture on the cover of a […]

Penguins on Parade: The Complete Poetry of George Herbert!

August 10, 2015
Penguins on Parade: The Complete Poetry of George Herbert!

Some Penguin Classics frankly puzzle, and a perfect example of this not-always-frustrating sub-category would have to be the plump new Complete Poetry volume of George Herbert, edited by Victoria Moul and John Drury, which comes only a skimpy ten years after the last edition of the previous Penguin Complete Herbert, edited by John Tobin, then […]

Book Review: The Dinosaur Lords

August 10, 2015
dinosaur lords cover

On the world of Paradise, the wars of dynasties are fought on battlefields by knights mounted on dinosaurs

Penguins on Parade: The Road Not Taken!

August 10, 2015
Penguins on Parade: The Road Not Taken!

Some Penguin Classics seem particularly to invite the Deluxe treatment, and for a host of reasons good and bad, the poetry of Robert Frost is certainly one of those. This lovely little Deluxe Classic is set to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the publication of Frost’s iconic and poster-friendly poem “The Road Not Taken,” and […]

Book Review: Voices in the Ocean

August 8, 2015
voices in the ocean

A lively new book explores the minds and behaviors of many of Earth’s cetaceans

The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini!

August 7, 2015
The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini!

Our book today is an old favorite: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini, here in the durable John Addington Symonds translation from 1887. Cellini started dictating the book in 1558 when he was 58 and clearly warmed to the novel task as he got going, and that feeling of making-it-up-as-he-goes-along momentum sends a current of electricity […]

Book Review: The President and the Apprentice

August 7, 2015
9780300181050

The settled opinion of historians has always been that President Eisenhower personally hated his vice president, Richard Nixon; a vigorous, unmissable new book tries to set that record straight

Comics: Civil War Returns!

August 6, 2015
Comics: Civil War Returns!

Among yesterday’s comics was a “Secret Wars” spin-off set in the world Marvel Comics readers first saw in 2006-07’s “Civil War” mini-series, with artwork by Leinil Francis Yu and very solid writing by Charles Soule, the first two issues made for some snappy comics – just like most of the original “Civil War” stories did, […]

Book Review: Hirohito’s War

August 6, 2015
hirohito’s war

A massive new history details the war in the Pacific Theater during WWII

Book Review: Where Are My Books?

August 5, 2015
where 3

One by one, young Spencer’s books are disappearing at night – can he figure out where they’re going before they’re all gone?

Book Review: The Meaning of the Library

August 5, 2015
the meaning of the library

A new book celebrating the library’s thousands of years of history and constantly-changing cultural role is filled with sharp essays

When the Going Was Good!

August 5, 2015
When the Going Was Good!

Our book today a neat little 1946 banquet of travel-writing, When the Going Was Good, by Evelyn Waugh, that pomaded prince of the Seasoned Pro class of travel-writers. The book is a crushed compilation of four earlier works: Labels, Remote People, Ninety-Two Days, and – Waugh stressed the title wasn’t of his choosing – Waugh […]

When the Going Was Good!

August 5, 2015
When the Going Was Good!

Our book today a neat little 1946 banquet of travel-writing, When the Going Was Good, by Evelyn Waugh, that pomaded prince of the Seasoned Pro class of travel-writers. The book is a crushed compilation of four earlier works: Labels, Remote People, Ninety-Two Days, and – Waugh stressed the title wasn’t of his choosing – Waugh […]

Book Review: Voltaire’s Revolution

August 4, 2015
voltaire’s revolution

For the better part of a century, Voltaire waged a sometimes solitary battle against the iniquities of organized religion. A great new book brings together fresh translations of some of the philosopher’s most biting works.

Cleopatra’s Wedding Present!

August 4, 2015
Cleopatra’s Wedding Present!

Our book today is Robert Tewdwr Moss’s 1997 cult classic, Cleopatra’s Wedding Present: Travels through Syria, a strange and often lovely volume that’s also inescapably sad, since right after completing a final draft of the book, the author was left bound and gagged by robbers in his London apartment and suffocated before he could be […]

Book Review: The Real Lives of Roman Britain

August 3, 2015
the real lives of roman britain

Archeological research has uncovered more than ever about the ordinary men and women who lived in Britain during the centuries of Roman occupation. A lively new book assesses what we know

Under a Sickle Moon!

August 3, 2015
Under a Sickle Moon!

Our book today is Peregrine Hodson’s Under a Sickle Moon, his 1986 account of the 1984 trek he made through over a thousand miles of Afghanistan, and the book is a perfect little reminder of the three kinds of travelogue-writers: The Whining Interloper, The Seasoned Pro, and The Professional Alien. If the name “Peregrine Hodson” […]

Under a Sickle Moon!

August 3, 2015
Under a Sickle Moon!

Our book today is Peregrine Hodson’s Under a Sickle Moon, his 1986 account of the 1984 trek he made through over a thousand miles of Afghanistan, and the book is a perfect little reminder of the three kinds of travelogue-writers: The Whining Interloper, The Seasoned Pro, and The Professional Alien. If the name “Peregrine Hodson” […]

Book Review: The Blooding

August 2, 2015
the blooding cover

Matthew Hawkwood, James McGee’s super-competent soldier-turned-spy, returns in another adventure, this time trapped in America during the War of 1812

The Book of Dogs!

August 2, 2015
The Book of Dogs!

Our book today is The Book of Dogs, a lovely leatherbound thing put out by the National Geographic Society back in 1919, subtitled “An Intimate Study of Mankind’s Best Friend.” The text is by Ernest Harold Baynes, with plenty of black-and-white photographs supplementing color illustrations by Louise Agassiz Fuertes and Hashime Murayama, and although semi-official […]

Book Review: Brothers in Blood

August 1, 2015
brothers in blood

In the latest Roman historical novel from old pro Simon Scarrow, two heroic legionaries are chasing an infamous local warlord in Britannia – and facing treachery from within their own ranks

The Five of Hearts!

August 1, 2015
The Five of Hearts!

Our book today is Patricia O’Toole’s wonderful 1990 biography of a set, The Five of Hearts, subtitled “An Intimate Portrait of Henry Adams and His Friends, 1880-1918.” The five in question are Adams himself, his wife Clover, John Hay and his wife Clara, and Clarence King, an effusive and flamboyant “entrepreneur” who shines just a […]

Painful to Nice Feelings

August 1, 2015
Painful to Nice Feelings

He sailed around Cape Horn and wrote a classic about it, and he fought for the downtrodden in Boston courts for thirty years – he was Richard Henry Dana, Jr., and he’s the subject of a thought-provoking new biography.

Book Review: The Eagle in Splendour

July 30, 2015
9781784531751.ashx

“How a Court LOOKS,” remarked a courtier to one of England’s more successful modern-day monarchs, “is at least as important as how a Court WORKS.” A re-issued study from Philip Mansel looks at form and function in the court of Napoleon Bonaparte

Book Review: For God and Kaiser

July 28, 2015
for god and kaiser

“Austria,” quipped Talleyrand, “has the tiresome habit of always being beaten” – but Richard Bassett’s vigorous new history of the Imperial Austrian Army begs to differ!

Book Review: Braddock’s Defeat

July 27, 2015
braddock’s defeat cover

A French army and a British army stumble upon each other in the wilderness of the New World, and their conflict changes the nature of the world’s biggest war

Book Review: Rome’s Revolution

July 27, 2015
rome’s revolution

The epic change in ancient Rome from a Republic to an Empire hinged on one man: Julius Caesar. A new history tells the familiar story.

Book Review: The Two-State Delusion

July 27, 2015
two-state delusion cover

A veteran state conflict analyst looks at the mother of such conflicts: the long strife between Israel and Palestine

Book Review: The Last Leaves Falling

July 25, 2015
last leaves falling

A teenager in Kyoto tries to face the last months of his life as a samurai would – with a little help from his friends

Book Review: The Meursault Investigation

July 25, 2015
meursault investigation

The famous bloody encounter at the center of Albert Camus’ novel The Stranger is re-imagined from a new perspective in Kamel Daoud’s widely-praised debut

Book Review: The Black Coat

July 23, 2015
black-coat-new-web

In the wake of Bangladesh’s bloody Liberation War, a hapless nonentity suddenly finds himself impersonating a beloved national leader

Book Review: Sicily

July 23, 2015
sicily

Veteran historian John Julius Norwich attempts to cram over 800 years of Sicilian history into 300 pages – and because he’s John Julius Norwich, he very nearly succeeds

Cache Lake Country!

July 23, 2015
Cache Lake Country!

Our book today is John Rowland’s warm and wonderful 1947 classic Cache Lake Country, ostensibly about the author’s small rough-living getaway cabin deep in the vast Ontario North Woods, although as Rowland makes clear at the outset, the quiet and sheer beauty of the place almost abstracts the place from any map or guidebook: On […]

Cache Lake Country!

July 23, 2015
Cache Lake Country!

Our book today is John Rowland’s warm and wonderful 1947 classic Cache Lake Country, ostensibly about the author’s small rough-living getaway cabin deep in the vast Ontario North Woods, although as Rowland makes clear at the outset, the quiet and sheer beauty of the place almost abstracts the place from any map or guidebook: On […]

Book Review: The Fall

July 22, 2015
the fall

Federal contractor Jack Taylor takes an unprecedented high-altitude space jump – but when he breaks the sound barrier and makes his landing, he finds himself in a different reality

Romance Roundup: July 2015!

July 22, 2015
Romance Roundup: July 2015!

When it comes to genre fiction, could there be any words more encouraging than “First in a New Series”? Mysteries, sci-fi, and especially fantasy and romance tend to favor books-in-series to an absolutely exorbitant extent, to the point where by the time you happen to run across a series that might want to read, you […]

Romance Roundup: July 2015!

July 22, 2015
Romance Roundup: July 2015!

When it comes to genre fiction, could there be any words more encouraging than “First in a New Series”? Mysteries, sci-fi, and especially fantasy and romance tend to favor books-in-series to an absolutely exorbitant extent, to the point where by the time you happen to run across a series that might want to read, you […]

Book Review: Last First Snow

July 21, 2015
last first snow

In Max Gladstone’s latest “Craft” sequence novel, what looks like a straightforward neighborhood gentrification suddenly threatens to unleash the wrath of the gods themselves

Book Review: The Year’s Best Science Fiction, 2015

July 20, 2015
Various-YearsBestSF32-Blog

The latest monumental anthology from Gardner Dozois of the best the sci-fi genre has to offer

Critical Venting in the Penny Press!

July 19, 2015
Critical Venting in the Penny Press!

As I’ve noted on many occasions, book-reviewing can be tricky business for people who aren’t me. Most reviewers have actual personal lives, for instance, and I’ve heard that those can take up time and effort, entail trips to Ikea, and sometimes lead the unwary into the wilds of Canada. Most reviewers likewise devote ungawdly number […]

Book Review: Beyond Words

July 18, 2015
beyond words

In his beautifully-written new book, ecologist Carl Safina takes a broader look at the emotional and mental lives of nonhuman animals

Book Review: In a Dark Wood

July 16, 2015
in a dark wood cover

A professor of Italian clings to Dante’s Divine Comedy when confronted with an unthinkable tragedy in his own life

Book Review: Joan of Arc

July 16, 2015
joan of arc

The half-legendary Maid of Orleans gets a refreshingly wide-angled new history from Helen Castor

Book Review: The Quiet Man

July 15, 2015
the quiet man cover

A memoir of the first President Bush, written by his former Chief of Staff

Book Review: Palimpsest

July 15, 2015
palimsest cover

In a mere 200 pages on the history of writing, Matthew Battles takes readers from ancient China and Sumeria to Gutenberg to – oh my, are we out of time already?

Disasters Big and Small in the Penny Press!

July 15, 2015
Disasters Big and Small in the Penny Press!

The Penny Press this week featured a long article on a remorseless natural disaster, something that strikes without warning, wantonly destroys property, and inflicts untold pain and misery on humans around the world. I refer, of course, to corgis. Specifically, to a wonderfully wonky article in the latest Vanity Fair by Michael Joseph Gross about […]

Book Review: Wolves on the Hunt

July 14, 2015
wolves on the hunt!

Far from the popular image of ravenous killing machines, wolves are actually surprisingly cautious predators who carefully weigh the risks they take, as a stunning new study illustrates

Book Review: Dark Orbit

July 14, 2015
dark orbit cover

A distant planet crackling with “dark energy” holds mind-boggling secrets for the crew of humans sent to explore it

Book Review: Pretty Is

July 11, 2015
prettty is cover

Years ago, two young girls were abducted and held for two months by a mysterious stranger; in the present, in Maggie Mitchell’s terrific debut novel, these women are now confronted with the suspicion that a part of their childhood ordeal is very much alive.

Book Review: Last to Die

July 11, 2015
last to die

Military historian Stephen Harding tells the poignant story of the last soldier killed in World War II

Summer – kinda – reading in the Penny Press!

July 10, 2015
Summer – kinda – reading in the Penny Press!

The always-delightful “Summer Reading” issue of The Weekly Standard came out recently (with its typically witty cover, only this one, unlike all the earlier classics of its kind, worries that its central joke will be missed by the general readership – so the punch line, “The Turn of the Screw,” is actually spelled out, just […]

Book Review: Time Salvager

July 10, 2015
time salvager

In the future, a vast corporation sends operatives back in time to loot the past, and those operatives have one rule above all others: bring nobody back with you. When one of those operatives breaks that rule, Wesley Chu’s novel takes off

Book Review: The Lagoon

July 10, 2015
lagoon cover

When enigmatic aliens plunge down in the ocean off the coast of Nigeria, three very different humans encounter them – and watch as the world is changed forever

Book Review: The Runes of Evolution

July 9, 2015
the runes of evolution

Time and again in the history of life, environmental pressures and biological systems combine to produce the same adaptations in wildly different species and epochs. It’s called convergent evolution, and Simon Conway Morris has written its grand opera.

Book Review: The War at the Edge of the World

July 8, 2015
war at the edge cover

A decorated Roman soldier accompanies a dangerous mission into barbarian territory in 4th century Britain

Book Review: The Captive Condition

July 7, 2015
the captive condition cover

The forgotten Midwestern town of Normandy Falls becomes the setting for an increasingly horrifying – and surreal – series of events in Kevin Keating’s outstanding new novel

Obiter Dicta!

July 6, 2015
Obiter Dicta!

Our book today is an amplified edition of Obiter Dicta, which English politician Augustine Birrell first published in 1885 but had occasion to re-issue a couple of times between 1885 and 1890. The book is a collection of some of the literary pieces Birrell was always working on while also serving in various governments at […]

Book Review: Hostile Takeover

July 6, 2015
hostile takeover cover

In “Hostile Takeover,” Shane Kuhn provides a raucous follow-up to his popular novel “The Intern’s Handbook”

Book Review: The Insect Farm

July 6, 2015
the insect farm cover

Two brothers – one simple-minded, the other quite possibly devious – are at the heart of Stuart Prebble’s new thriller

Wonder in Pakistan in the Penny Press!

July 5, 2015
Wonder in Pakistan in the Penny Press!

I’m one of many periodical readers, I suspect, who read Usman Malik’s superb mini-essay “Rockets, Robots, and Reckless Imagination” in The Herald magazine out of Pakistan; the piece has been linked and shared liberally since it appeared a couple of days ago, and deservedly so. In a little over 2000 words, Malik manages to write […]

Wonder in Pakistan in the Penny Press!

July 5, 2015
Wonder in Pakistan in the Penny Press!

I’m one of many periodical readers, I suspect, who read Usman Malik’s superb mini-essay “Rockets, Robots, and Reckless Imagination” in The Herald magazine out of Pakistan; the piece has been linked and shared liberally since it appeared a couple of days ago, and deservedly so. In a little over 2000 words, Malik manages to write […]

Book Review: The American Revolution

July 4, 2015
loa american revolution

Just in time for America’s Independence Day, the Library of America presents its newest production: a two-volume collection of some of the pamphlets that so inflamed the colonial population in the decade leading up to the Revolution

Penguins on Parade: Common Sense!

July 4, 2015
Penguins on Parade: Common Sense!

Some Penguin Classics have perfect timing. Not many, as you’d expect, since the line deals primarily in works of literature that are specifically timeless – but in some cases, the when can mean a lot even alongside the what, and today is one of those case: a pretty new Penguin Classics edition of Thomas Paine’s […]

Book Review: The Summer of Good Intentions

July 3, 2015
the summer of good intentions cover

Three sisters and their various husbands and children gather at the family’s inviting old Cape Cod vacation home, where they face drama, revelation, heartache, and maybe personal re-invention.

Book Review: Newport

July 3, 2015
newport cover

A wealthy family in dazzling 1920s Newport, Rhode Island faces problems and revelations in both the material world of their huge estate – and also in the spirit world, where secrets will be revealed

Book Review: The Exchange of Princesses

July 3, 2015
the exchange of princesses cover

In the early 1720s, the regent of France risked both his young king and his young daughter on high-stakes international gambles in the ongoing War of Succession; a sparkling new novel dramatizes the events

Old Friends!

July 3, 2015
Old Friends!

Our book today is Old Friends, a 1909 collection of typically syrupy reminiscences put down on paper by the then-legendary drama critic and theater historian William Winter, who immediately sets about answering the charge of a Boston book-critic that he was a “mere maunder, sodden with lazy idolatry for days gone by.” “Let not those […]

Book Review: Primates of Park Avenue

July 2, 2015
primates of park avenue cover

In Wednesday Martin’s now-infamous scathing account, we learn the appalling personal details of the wives of Manhattan’s rich and famous

Penguins on Parade: The Gawain Poet!

July 1, 2015
Penguins on Parade: The Gawain Poet!

Some Penguin Classics – including this, the final entrant in our little parade this time around – are eye-opening in a way that a single reprint of a single classic seldom is. Medievalists Ad Putter and Myra Stokes have taken one of keystone works of English literature – Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, beloved […]

Book Review: The Duke’s Assassin

July 1, 2015
Dall’Aglio Jkt 9780300189780.indd

A brutal assassination in 1537 changed the course of Florentine history, and eleven years later, the assassin was himself murdered. Case closed? A fascinating new book thinks not!

The Book and the Boy

July 1, 2015
The Book and the Boy

A thousand years ago, a refined lady at the Japanese Court wrote the first and one of the greatest novels of all time, The Tale of Genji; Dennis Washburn does the latest translation of this immense work, with stunning results.

From the Archives: Register of Wonder

July 1, 2015
From the Archives: Register of Wonder

D. Graham Burnett, a young historian of science, produces a fantastic and important encyclopedic history of the long, torturous, often retrograde progress toward “Save the Whales.”

Penguins on Parade: When You Are Old!

June 30, 2015
Penguins on Parade: When You Are Old!

Some Penguin Classics would infuriate their authors, and that’s almost always a good thing – certainly so in the case of an absolutely lovely and subtly subversive new volume called When You Are Old: Early Poems, Plays, and Fairy Tales by W. B. Yeats, edited by a Yeats scholar who actually has Yeatsian name: Rob […]

Book Review: People of the Songtrail

June 29, 2015
people of the song trail

Fifteen hundred years ago, the inhabitants of northeastern Canada encounter intruders from over the sea: Vikings

Penguins on Parade: The Turnip Princess!

June 27, 2015
Penguins on Parade: The Turnip Princess!

Some Penguin Classics are themselves every bit as fascinating a tale as anything they reprint. It doesn’t often happen that more provenance will furnish a story worth telling – certainly it doesn’t happen often in the Penguin Classics line, where the typical sequence of events goes something like this: Henry James finishes a nice lunch […]

Book Review: The Melody Lingers On

June 27, 2015
the melody lingers on cover

A rich investment swindler disappears on his boat – and with a great chunk of his ill-gotten gains – and the plot is afoot in the latest thriller from Mary Higgins Clark

Penguins on Parade: The Deluxe Alice in Wonderland!

June 25, 2015
Penguins on Parade: The Deluxe Alice in Wonderland!

Some Penguin Classics Deluxe Editions really outdo themselves – in fact, it’s coming to be my impression that most of them do. At first, I tended to bridle at their highly individualistic appearances – specially-commissioned cover illustrations (many of which are highly stylized), French flaps, deckle edges – it all seems like post-Vatican II guitars-in-church […]

Book Review: Domesticated

June 24, 2015
domesticated cover

Tens of thousands of years ago, humans domesticated canines and thereby changed the dynamics of life on earth – a change humanity then continued by domesticating other species. A fascinating new book details the process

Book Review: The Upright Thinkers

June 24, 2015
the upright thinkers cover

Millions of years ago, hominids began walking upright – thus expanding their field of view and freeing their hands for mischief and took-making. A new book celebrates the result.

In Paperback: Human Universe

June 24, 2015
human universe cover

Now in paperback in the US: the companion book to the popular BBC science program hosted by physicist Brian Cox

Penguins on Parade: The Grimke Sisters!

June 24, 2015
Penguins on Parade: The Grimke Sisters!

Some Penguin Classics hinge on a fantastic, cinema-worthy moment in American oratory and history. You can see it in their volume of the Selected Speeches and Letters of John Quincy Adams, which features his stirring, epic 1841 speech before the Supreme Court on behalf of the African slaves of the Amistad – oh wait, no […]

Penguins on Parade: La Regenta!

June 23, 2015
Penguins on Parade: La Regenta!

Some Penguin Classics are so big and so impressive that it’s astounding they’re not better known to the general English-reading public, and surely La Regenta, the massive 1885 Spanish novel by Leopoldo Alas – issued in this big 1984 Penguin trade paperback but still almost entirely unknown to the Republic of Letters. I recently found […]

Penguins on Parade: The Princess de Cleves!

June 22, 2015
Penguins on Parade: The Princess de Cleves!

Some Penguin Classics feel like perpetual surprises – a bomb in a hymnal, as Sir Kenneth Clark might have written – and that certainly applies to Madame de Lafayette’s 1678 novel The Princess of Cleves, the short but untiringly punchy story of the elegant Mme de Cleves, a fixture at the splendid court of the […]

Book Review: Byron’s Letters & Journals

June 20, 2015
byron’s letters

Byron the poet was also Byron the prolific correspondent and diarist, as a generous and learned new collection amply demonstrates

Sebastian Junger’s WAR!

June 20, 2015
Sebastian Junger’s WAR!

Our book today is Sebastian Junger’s 2010 book War, which I read at a gallop when it first appeared and which I initially disliked for what I took to be facile grandstanding on the part of the author. I went into the book with the best of dispositions, helped along by the stunning cover photos […]

Book Review: How Britain Saved the West

June 19, 2015
when britain saved the west

For a key interval in 1940, Britain stood alone against the might of Nazi Germany at its peak – and that familiar story of determination and ultimate victory is the subject of Robin Prior’s new book

Comics! A mixed bag!

June 18, 2015
Comics! A mixed bag!

Comics this week were a mixed bag as always. I bought issue # 18 of the Superman/Wonder Woman ongoing series mainly based on the stark drama of the cover, on which two young men in Superman and Wonder Woman costumes are regarding each other with grim expressions. On the inside, it turns out the issue […]

Tears (of Laughter?) in the Penny Press!

June 18, 2015
Tears (of Laughter?) in the Penny Press!

Sometimes, a New Yorker cartoon captures things just about perfectly:

Tears (of Laughter?) in the Penny Press!

June 18, 2015
Tears (of Laughter?) in the Penny Press!

Sometimes, a New Yorker cartoon captures things just about perfectly:

Book Review: The Change

June 18, 2015
dies the fire

In a generous new anthology, a group of talented authors tells stories set in the “Emberverse” of S. M. Stirling – an Earth where all technology has abruptly stopped working

Book Review: Margaret of Anjou

June 17, 2015
margaret of anjou cover

In Iggulden’s ongoing series about the Wars of the Roses, England’s Queen Margaret struggles to hold onto her power – and her life – even as her husband the king slips in and out of sanity

Book Review: In the Unlikely Event

June 17, 2015
in the unlikely event cover

A New Jersey town repeatedly struck by falling planes is the setting for Judy Blume’s new book

Book Review: Charles I & The People of England

June 16, 2015
charles_i_cover_3278493a

How did the dynamics of kingship apply to a distant and socially maladroit little creature like King Charles I? A terrific new book looks at personality and power in the Stuart era

Book Review: Storm and Steel

June 16, 2015
blood_and_iron

A former slave in a brutal empire is now wielding both political and magical power the second volume in Jon Sprunk’s hugely enjoyable “Book of the Black Earth” series

Cordwainer Smith in the Summertime!

June 16, 2015
Cordwainer Smith in the Summertime!

The beginning of summer’s long-delayed genuine warmth is a strong mnemonic trigger, effortlessly peeling back years and bringing treasured old reading experiences back to the forefront of memory. For me, many moons ago, summer was always a time for science fiction and fantasy – no idea why, since I read ample amounts of it in […]

Book Review: Death and Mr. Pickwick

June 15, 2015
death and mr pickwick cover

An ambitious debut novel explores the world that gave birth to the meteoric career of Charles Dickens and his lesser-known competitors

Book Review: Nixon’s Nuclear Specter

June 15, 2015
nixon’s nuclear specter cover

At the height of the Vietnam War, President Nixon engaged in an incredibly risky game of nuclear brinksmanship – a richly-researched new book tells the story

Book Review: Yanks in the RAF

June 13, 2015
yanks in the raf cover

While America was still technically neutral in Great Britain’s fight against Germany, a handful of American flyers traveled to England and volunteered to fly in the RAF – a fascinating new book tells their story

Six Compact Lives!

June 13, 2015
Six Compact Lives!

2015 has been blessedly full of whoppingly huge new biographies, and I’ve read as many of them as I could (and I’ve got my lustful eye on the remainder, hoping to devour them before the year ends). I unabashedly love whoppingly huge biographies, but they have one drawback: their printed versions take up a hell […]

Six Compact Lives!

June 13, 2015
Six Compact Lives!

2015 has been blessedly full of whoppingly huge new biographies, and I’ve read as many of them as I could (and I’ve got my lustful eye on the remainder, hoping to devour them before the year ends). I unabashedly love whoppingly huge biographies, but they have one drawback: their printed versions take up a hell […]

Six Compact Lives!

June 13, 2015
Six Compact Lives!

2015 has been blessedly full of whoppingly huge new biographies, and I’ve read as many of them as I could (and I’ve got my lustful eye on the remainder, hoping to devour them before the year ends). I unabashedly love whoppingly huge biographies, but they have one drawback: their printed versions take up a hell […]

Book Review: Multitudinous Heart

June 12, 2015
multitudinous heart cover

A sumptuous new bilingual edition of the great Brazilian poet Carlos Drummond de Andrade

Book Review: The Islanders

June 12, 2015
the islanders cover

A woman dies in Versailles, and her death sets in motion a tangled plot connecting a small group of people in this 2010 novel by Pascal Garnier

Book Review: Bright Eyed

June 11, 2015
bright eyed

A new memoir about sleeplessness – and the wired culture that seems to encourage it

In Paperback: Wildlife in the Anthropocene

June 11, 2015
wildlife in the anthropocene

Now in paperback: a new rumination on the nature of the post-wildlife world mankind has built

Book Review: The Rise of Thomas Cromwell

June 10, 2015
rise of cromwell cover

Hilary Mantel’s two famous novels have fueled the centuries-old curiosity about King Henry VIII’s notorious minister Thomas Cromwell: was he a saint, Satan, or a civil servant? A magnificent new study attempts to sift fact from fiction

The Also-Rans in the Penny Press!

June 9, 2015
The Also-Rans in the Penny Press!

I don’t often give my second-tier periodical reading the attention it deserves here on Stevereads, which is a little unfair considering how much reading enjoyment it so regularly gives me. It’s true that my main fare comes from mighty banquets like the TLS or the New York Review of Books or Harper’s or the Atlantic […]

Book Review: The Wolf Border

June 9, 2015
wolf border cover

The effort of an eccentric earl to re-introduce wolves to England draws a zoologist back to the home she left years before

Book Review: The Unfortunates

June 7, 2015
the unfortunates cover

The steely matriarch of a wealthy family is losing both her health and her control over her family in this sharp debut novel by Sophie McManus

The Birds of Britain!

June 7, 2015
The Birds of Britain!

Our book today is the lovely 1947 volume The Birds of Britain, written by zoologist James Fisher as part of the wonderful “Britain in Pictures” series from Collins that was once so popular and that now stands in bad needs of a series-wide reprint. That day will never come, I suspect, but The Birds of […]

The June 2015 Boston Public Library Book Sale!

June 6, 2015
The June 2015 Boston Public Library Book Sale!

Is there any more pleasant a thing to do on a cold, overclouded early summer morning than to attend a library book sale? For a bookworm, surely not – and so I ventured out one humid, bitter morning to the Boston Public Library Book Sale organized and run by the City-Wide Friends of the BPL […]

In Paperback: The Literary Churchill

June 6, 2015
the literary churchill paperback

Now in paperback, a groundbreaking study of Winston Churchill’s life as a bestselling author, speechwriter, and speech performer

Our Capital on the Potomac!

June 6, 2015
Our Capital on the Potomac!

Our book today brings back sweet, sweet memories. It’s Our Capital on the Potomac, a wonderful 1924 history of Washington, D.C by Helen Nicolay, who was an energetic researcher and something of Beltway aristocrat, being the daughter of President Lincoln’s beloved secretary John Nicolay. She was a wonderful hostess, an inevitable fixture in the town’s […]

Book Review: Watch the Lady

June 5, 2015
watch the lady

Penelope Devereux inspired a poet and may well have inspired a failed coup in Elizabethan England – and now she inspires a richly-detailed novel

Comics – Convergence Conclusions!

June 5, 2015
Comics – Convergence Conclusions!

This last week turned out to be a sharply sad one for me, in the realm of comics. I was reading a spattering of the latest “Convergence” spin-off issues from DC, all of them set in the various fractured sideline-realities and featuring DC characters from various titles and imprints over the decades before the company’s […]

Comics – Convergence Conclusions!

June 5, 2015
Comics – Convergence Conclusions!

This last week turned out to be a sharply sad one for me, in the realm of comics. I was reading a spattering of the latest “Convergence” spin-off issues from DC, all of them set in the various fractured sideline-realities and featuring DC characters from various titles and imprints over the decades before the company’s […]

Book Review: Shakespeare and the Countess

June 4, 2015
shakespeare and the countess cover

The 1596 battle over Blackfriars Theatre was waged by a strong-willed Puritan woman who had a habit of picking fights, including with the Queen; a terrific new book tells the story at length for the first time

The Other Nile!

June 4, 2015
The Other Nile!

Our book today is The Other Nile, a slim, somewhat fey travelogue written in 1986 by Charlie Pye-Smith about his travels down the Nile through Egypt, the Sudan, and Ethiopia. The book is evocative as all travel-writing should be; the author is forever describing things that are being overtaken by other things – his book […]

Book Review: Wellington, Waterloo and the Fortunes of Peace

June 3, 2015
half-centurie wellingtons

In time for the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo comes the concluding volume in Rory Muir’s magisterial biography of the battle’s victor, the Duke of Wellington

The Last Ship!

June 2, 2015
The Last Ship!

Our book today is The Last Ship by William Brinkley, a 1988 exponent of the whole sub-genre of military techno-fiction Tom Clancy had created virtually from scratch four years earlier with The Hunt for Red October – but also an exponent of a much older sci-fi tradition: the post-apocalyptic survival-story, along the lines of Alas, […]

Book Review: Behind the Mask

June 1, 2015
behind the mask

The enigmatic and compelling aristocratic author Vita Sackville-West is the subject of an approachable new biography

Unlikely Spring in the Penny Press!

June 1, 2015
Unlikely Spring in the Penny Press!

Reading the cover story of the latest Harper’s, David Bromwich’s magisterial, damning assessment of the Obama presidency, certainly did no wonders for my lunch-time digestion. Just the first paragraph reads like a cold halibut across the face: Any summing-up of the Obama presidency is sure to find a major obstacle in the elusiveness of the […]

No Doubters in the Shipyards

June 1, 2015
No Doubters in the Shipyards

Celebrated biographer H. W. Brands has written the first full-dress of Ronald Reagan since the former president’s death in 2004 – but does Reagan elude him, as he has so many biographers? Steve Donoghue reviews.

The Rise of Roscoe Paine!

May 31, 2015
The Rise of Roscoe Paine!

Our book today is The Rise of Roscoe Paine, a delightful 1912 novel by the Joseph Lincoln, who died half a century ago but who, for half a century before that, enjoyed a very nice career as a novelist and balladeer, singing the praises of a gently mythologized Cape Cod in book after book, much […]

The Rise of Roscoe Paine!

May 31, 2015
The Rise of Roscoe Paine!

Our book today is The Rise of Roscoe Paine, a delightful 1912 novel by the Joseph Lincoln, who died half a century ago but who, for half a century before that, enjoyed a very nice career as a novelist and balladeer, singing the praises of a gently mythologized Cape Cod in book after book, much […]

Comics: Behold … The Vision!

May 30, 2015
Comics: Behold … The Vision!

Our book today is a good oldie reprinted for crass opportunistic motives: it’s the latest “Epic Collection” from Marvel Comics, The Avengers: Behold … The Vision, and the crass part isn’t far to seek: the movie Avengers: Age of Ultron is still in theaters worldwide and has already grossed north of $500 million with no […]

Book Review: Fastest Things on Wings

May 30, 2015
fastest things on wings

A group of rescuers in Southern California treat the most delicate patients imaginable: injured hummingbirds

Book Review: Noise Matters

May 29, 2015
noise matters cover

A genuinely thought-provoking new work of science-writing probes the nature – and even the value – of noise

Romance Round-Up: May’s Regencies!

May 29, 2015
Romance Round-Up: May’s Regencies!

For my final romance round-up in May, I slouched back to my admitted favorite sub-genre, the Regency – and not your grandmother’s Regency (your grandmother, that is, not mine – there’s no documentary evidence that my dear Granny ever read a book in her incredibly long life, bless the dear) but this new richer and […]

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
vesuvius cover

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

Classics Reissued: Gallipoli

May 24, 2015
gallipoli cover

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
the great war for our time cover

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
the unraveling cover

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
the obelisk and the englishman cover

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
Girolamo_Savonarola

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
an ember in the ashes cover

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
whirlwind cover

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
the vorrh us cover

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
nyrb onward and upward cover

The quintessential modern classic of gardening-literature gets a very nice reprint

Book Review: A Buzz in the Meadow

May 13, 2015
buzz new.indd

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
theatre of the unimpressed cover

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
Colossus_MECH_01.indd

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
cursed victory cover

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
note book cover

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
john knox cover

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
jfk and lbj cover

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
constitution cover

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
planck cover

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
ReevesBook

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
princes at war cover

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
armenian genocide suny cover

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
lurid & cute cover

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
their last full measure cover

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
james merrill cover

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

Book Review: KL

April 11, 2015
kl cover

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
france 1940 cover

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
one of us cover

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
bonaparte cover

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
hitler’s shadow empire cover

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
king john uk cover

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
the baltic cover

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
washington’s circle cover

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
galileo’s telescope cover

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
ravensbruck cover

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
architect’s apprentice cover

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 […]