Articles in OL Weekly
Before the age of commercial aviation, travelers of all sorts spent time on passenger vessels, some of which were very humble and others famously grand. New from Seaforth Publishing is a beautiful book documenting that lost era
A gripping new book uses a tragedy in Utah to examine the growing menace of texting while driving
What really happened that night in Benghazi on September 11, 2012, when four US citizens lost their lives when a large group of gunmen attacked the US compound? What were the forces that set the tragedy in motion, and could it have been prevented? A new book asks the hard questions
The events of September 11, 2012 at the American compound in Benghazi have proven extremely politically divisive, but Mitchell Zuckoff’s new book strives to stay focused on the men doing the fighting and dying
When a headstrong young woman jumps in a coach in order flee Mr. Wrong, she never guesses she’s got a passenger in the back who might just be Mr. Right.
What does a headstrong gambler do when she makes an all-or-nothing bet with an imperious lord – and loses?
King Henry VII’s victory at Bosworth transferred the crown of England to the new Tudor dynasty – but it also left many Plantagenets hanging around making Henry VII anxious. His son Henry VIII shared that anxiety, and his gradually-increasing persecution of the last remaining Plantagenets is the heart of Philippa Gregory’s new novel.
Historian S. C. Gwynne has written an immense – and immensely readable – biography of one of the most enduringly enigmatic figures of the American Civil War, Stonewall Jackson
We all know the names of Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, and Adams, but a terrifically engaging new book reminds us that the American Revolution’s supporting cast was no less fascinating
Spurred by a chance encounter with a wounded bird, Michele Raffin steadily grew her hobby into one of the world’s most successful sanctuaries for rare and threatened birds in need of rehabilitation.
Ken Follett’s enormous “Century Trilogy” comes to its conclusion against the backdrop of the Cold War, the civil rights struggle, and all the other trials of the 20th century
The First World War provided the dark inspiration for an entire generation of great writing, and a big new anthology assembles a stunning variety of that work, from the familiar to the obscure
A compendium of uplifting stories of ordinary people making extraordinary efforts to find ways to help the poor and disadvantaged of the world
A mild-mannered engineer goes out walking in Arizona and suddenly finds himself transported to a strange and violent alien world in M. C. Planck’s fantastic latest novel
A tightly-controlled kaleidoscopic debut novel from the lyricist for the Mountain Goats
“It’s not your fault.” “What’s not my fault?” “Nothing. Everything. I don’t know.”
In the face of a black wall of facts about environmental degradation and mass extinction, a scientist and teacher offers a much-needed note of hope
In the wake of Alexander the Great’s death, many voracious sub-kingdoms sprang up along the routes of his famous conquests. One of these would go on to become the Seleucid Empire, and a new book details its first century of existence
Before the headline-grabbing Tudor dynasty, England was ramped from end to end by an even greater and more terrible family of kings and queens. They were the mighty Plantagenets, and a new book tells their story
More and more information bombards us every day in what seems like an unbeatable torrent – and a new book attempts to separate the signal from the noise and help its readers to do a little mental triage
Back in the heyday of pre-reboot “Star Trek,” Captain Kirk and his crew had countless adventures – but what about all the other starships in the fleet? Didn’t any of them have adventures?
For centuries, the Confessions of Saint Augustine has been considered one of the greatest spiritual autobiographies ever written; the text’s first eight chapters gets a new translation in the venerable Loeb Classical Library
2014 marks the sad centenary of the extinction of the passenger pigeon, whose vast flocks had once darkened the skies of a young America; a new book sounds out the messages of that melancholy anniversary
Lord Byron’s personal physician was a prolific writer in his own right, and he’s the subject of a pleasingly lurid new account
Mira Jacob’s stunning debut A Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing spans continents and generations while exploring the enigmas of art, love, and neurochemistry. Amelia Glaser reviews.
A sweeping new history looks back half a century to the only wartime use of atomic weapons
President Nixon secretly tape-recorded his White House conversations for years – it was a habit that would help to destroy his administration, but before it did that, it created a huge archive of recorded conversations, which form the underpinning of a big new book
Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa is the most famous painting in the world – but who was the young woman in the painting? A new book narrates the life of the best-known face of them all.
Rest in Peace
Best-selling historian Hampton Sides takes as the subject of his new book a brave and failed 19th-century Arctic expedition
A massive new biography chronicles the fascinating life of one of the greatest composers of all time
A fascinating debut collection of short stories set in modern China
Robert the Bruce: King of the Scots
by Michael Penman
Yale University Press, 2014
This summer marks the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn, the epic confrontation in June 1314 between the English troops of Edward II …
The Black Hour
By Lori Rader-Day
Seventh Street Books, 2014
Lori Rader-Day’s thrillingly good debut mystery novel, The Black Hour, turns on a dolefully touchstone issue in the 21st century: school shootings. The school in question is Chicago’s …
A young man from the Victorian provinces comes to London to meet new kinds of people – and hoo boy, does he – in Lauren Owen’s lavish and, yes, seductive debut novel
Poe’s neat pairing of “the glory that was Greece” and “the grandeur that was Rome” belies the complexity of Republican Rome’s rapid expansion into the greater Mediterranean world and Asia Minor, the fascinating subject of Robin Waterfield’s new book
In 1553, an audacious expedition set sail from England headed east in search of a passage to China – a young historians debut work tells the story of that expedition in all its high drama
In 1588 the greatest war-fleet since the Trojan War was launched against the England of Elizabeth I. A gripping new history tells the familiar story for a new generation
A great new book of natural history focuses on the history, ecology, and behavior of the mountain lion, the fourth largest cat on the planet
When WWII army buddies go into the oil business in postwar Texas in James Lee Burke’s new novel, they encounter an enigmatic businessman who might make or break them
A long-time movie critic assembles some of his most passionate and fascinating essays on the great directors and actors of cinema’s golden age
A veteran reporter journeys deep into the heart of modern China and brings back predictably exotic stories
If a feckless young hipster writes an autobiographical novel about a feckless young hipster, does it make a sound?
A new biography looks at the long life of one of mankind’s greatest artists through six of his greatest works
Anthony Ryan follows up his much-praised debut “Blood Song” with a much more ambitious sequel
An enterprising young writer takes his dog on a road-trip around America in search of all the dog-crazy people the country can provide
Tel Aviv writer D. A. Mishani’s police detective Avraham Avraham returns to his old precinct and is immediately embroiled in black markets, plots, and counter-plots.
The legendary science fiction anthology series by Gardner Dozois reaches its thirty-first incarnation, with 700 pages of standout stories
A debut short story collection spans the world for its settings and marks the appearance of a notable talent
Lady Jane Grey was famously Queen of England for less than a fortnight before being executed by Queen Mary I; Elizabeth Fremantle’s new book takes us into the world of Lady Jane’s two sisters, adrift in a royal court that can’t afford to trust them.
The villainous Captain Cook from “Peter Pan” stars in Lisa Jensen’s new novel – but it’s a far more complex and sympathetic version of the character than Neverland fans will remember
Rest in Peace
After a handily vague apocalypse, a forlorn hipster couple bickers in the woods in Edan Lepucki’s much-hyped debut novel
Did the cataclysmic First World War actually have a hidden peace-dividend? Did it change the vocabulary of rapprochement forever? A vigorous new study makes a daring case
If you found a phone that could make calls to your own past, how would you use it? Or would you use it at all?
One of the foremost historians of the First World War offers a comprehensive and brutal overview of the conflict that gave birth to the modern world
A gripping account of the final days of the inept, tottering Austro-Hungarian empire – and the military apocalypse it helped to usher in
The discovery of Richard III’s skeleton in 2012 has flushed a number of books about the legendary dark monarch back into print – and none more welcome than this snappy volume by veteran biographer Desmond Seward
A discontented English housewife impulsively kills her husband and is then faced with the logistical problem of what to do with his body. In Natalie Young’s chillingly readable new novel, that housewife does what comes naturally
A great Renaissance humanist and city chancellor bucked up a friend entering holy orders by writing a stirring pamphlet condemning the joys of the secular world – and then the great humanist put down his pen and enjoyed an excellent supper of lemon-basted chicken, fresh salad, iced creams, and a fine Rhenish red wine, then perhaps a romp in bed with his pretty wife.
In Sally Beauman’s new novel, a young girl sent to Egypt for her health becomes entangled in dramatic events surrounding Howard Carter’s discovery of King Tutankhamun’s tomb …
The boozy, gossipy author of “The Life of Johnson” was a working journalist-hack for the whole of his life, but hardly any of that material has been cleaned up and presented to the modern reader – until now, in a groundbreaking new volume from Yale University Press
One of the greatest British Prime Ministers of them all gets an authoritative new biography
Diplomat, author, congresswoman, power broker, playwright – Clare Boothe Luce crammed an enormous amount of living into her life, and the concluding volume of Sylvia Jukes Morris’s essential biography gives it all the sparkling narration it deserves
A new translation of a bleak and edgy work by one of France’s best-regarded crime novelists
A generous new collection of essays by the legendary Joseph Epstein
John Anderson Winn’s thumpingly good new book studies the life and reign of Queen Anne through the least likely focus of them all – and succeeds wonderfully on all counts
One of the hard-chancing successors of Alexander the Great grabbed most of Asia when Alexander died – and then that successor and his successors worked desperately hard to hold onto it all
Director Clint Eastwood brings the beloved Broadway musical to the big screen
The super-villain glimpsed at the end of the mega-hit “Avengers” movie casts a long shadow in the comic books where he was born – a new Marvel Comics graphic novel fills in some of the blanks
A debut novel follows a charismatic young man’s partying days from New Jersey all the way to Scotland and back and charts his downfall as well
The entire vast and vivid history of Egypt is outlined to the reader as Toby Wilkinson’s charming new book makes its way down the Nile
The complicated history of the American Revolution gets its best examination in a generation in Thomas Slaughter’s new book
The young author of “The Red Badge of Courage” is the subject of a lively and very readable new biography
Popular writer Martin Dugard offers a new book about history’s great explorers, men and women who thought outside the box, pushed the envelope, lived every day as if it were their last, ate their vegetables, and voted three times for Ronald Reagan
In 1571 the Christian West and the Muslim East clashed in an epic sea-battle, and when it was over, painters, writers, and poets echoed it in their works. The latest I Tatti volume collects a bounty of those responses
Two friends flee famine-parched Ireland for opposite ends of the world in this big new historical novel
A man adopts a smart, fussy owl – and the relationship completely changes his life
A luminous – and enormous – new account of the novel’s colorful history takes readers on a fun and fast-paced tour of fiction from Fielding to Diaz, with innumerable stops in between
Even in its truncated US edition, Richard Overy’s great new history of aerial bombing during WWII has much to offer its readers
The man we think of as the quintessential politician was first and foremost a working author, as an amazing new assessment makes clear
King Henry VIII’s last wife referred to her as “Hell,” and the Court universally despised her coarse ambition – she was Anne Seymour, and she’s the unlikely subject of a nifty new novel
1856 London rang from one end to the other with the celebrated murder trial of Dr. William Palmer. A delightful new history presents the story for a new generation
For hundreds of thousands of years, humans lived and thrived and worshipped in what is now the British Isles, raising massive monuments and scorching the very ground in the long ages before the arrival of Christianity; a magisterial new history recounts as much as we now know about those lost centuries
When one comics legend stepped down from the “Tarzan” newspaper comic strip nearly a century ago, another comics legend – Burne Hogarth – took over, and “Tarzan in the City of Gold” is Titan Books’ first lavish reprint of Hogarth’s run on the title
A stunning portrait of a people driven by fear and then consumed by hate
A modern classic – now in an English-language translation – examines the roots of prewar German anti-Semitism
Remembering stories about the Holocaust shades into inventing stories about the Holocaust in Boris Fishman’s fantastic debut
A mother in Colorado, grieving for her young son, confronts the fact that he might have been leading a life she never imagined
A reclusive young woman meets a high-spirited blind girl whose enthusiasm for life opens a new world
Dauntless mosaic-layer Libertus returns for another side-job of crime-solving in Rosemary Rowe’s latest gripping murder mystery set in Roman Britain
A lavishly-illustrated guide book to the bumble bees of North America, in all their busy glory
The life and great loves of a legendary 1920s mountain-climber reach out from the past to grab the life of a young 1990s man in Justin Go’s hugely ambitious debut novel
Two missing girls, a very dead tyrant, and the possibility of a rampaging bear are only a few of the plot-twists in Gary Corby’s latest murder mystery set in the Athens of Pericles
The fateful trip E. M. Forster took to India in 1912 was the inspiration for his greatest novel – and it’s likewise the inspiration for a new novel from the author of “The Good Doctor”
In this spare and violent debut, a 13-year-old girl from Appalachia enters a lawless life
That same old grand story – William of Normandy’s daring capture of England in 1066 – gets a spiffy new history
The complicated and far-reaching intellectual endeavor of philology is the subject of a magnificent new history that has an angry edge of its own
Irma Heldman, Open Letters’ resident mystery expert, attended this year’s Edgar Awards. She reports back on the highlights (and the banquet’s best themed desserts).
In Nancy Atherton’s latest “Aunt Dimity” novel, a handsome young stranger comes to the little village of Finch – and he’s chaos follows in his wake
A slim and jam-packed new history of the city of Athens
Birds, turtles, bees, fish, whales … vast armies of living things traverse vast swatches of distance every year in their migrations. But how do they find their way? And WHY do they find their way? Bernd Heinrich’s new book explores the homing instinct.
The scenic seacoast town of Thunder Point plays host to more than its fair share of romantic drama in Robyn Carr’s popular series
An elite mercenary and an elite thief cross paths – with wonderfully predictable results – in Elle Kennedy’s latest “Killer Instincts” novel
A muscular NFL demigod is stalked by a spunky blogger in Tracy Solheim’s latest “Out of Bounds” novel
A hard-hearted cattle rancher is intrigued by the young Hollywood movie star filming shoot on his property in Jaci Burton’s latest “Hope” novel
A battle-hardened warrior must fight for the very memory of the woman he loves in Shannon Butcher’s latest ‘Sentinel Wars’ novel
Three old ladies watch over a town in Florida where broken hearts go to mend in Shirley Jump’s follow-up to “The Sweetheart Bargain”
A sprawling new history of the world during the ‘long’ 19th century
Pompeii and Herculaneum, the two most famous lost cities of the ancient world, had a long and vivid afterlife in culture and literature, as Ingrid Rowland’s insightful new book describes
The darkly iconic Last Stand of George Armstrong Custer receives an exuberantly detailed new account
In Nevada Barr’s latest thriller, her indefatigable main character must track a group of hired killers through the wilderness in order to save their hostages
The world’s smallest and busiest birds are the subject of a pretty new book
In Elisabeth Gifford’s impressive debut, two couples, separated by a century, each confront Scotland’s legends of the seal-folk.
The famous clerical martyr to the Nazi regime is the subject of a powerful new biography
The notorious Duke Lacrosse rape case – and its tawdry aftermath – is the subject of a veteran journalist’s big new book
A fascinating new book looks at the long political and historical writings of the author of “The Prince”
A splendidly brainy new intellectual biography gives us the mind-life of the great orator, writer, and parliamentarian Edmund Burke
Jane Austen’s posthumous send-up of Gothic novels (and their breathless readers) gets a lavish annotated edition
Through the eyes of an assistant, a new novel by an American master shows us the life and torturous loves of the great Renaissance artist Donatello
The plight of young girls in slavery-blighted Mexico is the crux of a harrowing novel
The beautiful Galapagos islands – home to finches, tortoises, and active magma – are the subject of a delightful new study
The first and most famous serial killer of the modern era killed five women in 1888 London – but did Jack the Ripper’s crimes start there? And did they end there? The two greatest “Ripperologists” make the case for a killer’s forgotten victims
That sleek and elegant diving-bird, the double-crested cormorant, faces deep-seated prejudices – and disastrous legal measures – in North America, its ancestral home
A fantastic British boarding-school novel from another age gets a pretty reprint
Cultured, erudite, and passionate, Louisa Catherine Adams had a long and fascinating life as wife to John Quincy Adams on the road to the presidency, and that life at long last has a superb biography
Robert Graves lived to be 90.
Deep in the Brazilian wilderness, Theodore Roosevelt and his son encounter a mysterious beast who kills without leaving any tracks
A bookseller’s daughter, a mad alchemist Medici prince, and a heroic Cornishman move the plot of Elizabeth Loupas’s hugely enjoyable new historical novel
Idealistic young Mary Shelton finds love at the Tudor Court – but it’s not the love her Queen has chosen for her
A morose misanthrope police superintendent investigates a killing in which the murderer traveled half-way around the world in order to murder a total stranger
A key element of science fiction DNA is the whole concept of time travel, and a gigantic new anthology assembles all the greatest time travel stories ever told
The wife of England’s King George II has been largely forgotten by history, but she was complimented by Swift, Pope, and Voltaire in her own day – and a new book brings her marvelously to life
Will the latest age of man – dubbed the Anthropocene – be the last? A new book looks at the tremendous toll the human race has taken on its home planet
On a laid-back little Greek island, a sacred icon is forged, a local painter is dead … and a fat man is on the case
A hugely enjoyable new novel tells the familiar story of Dr. Jekyll from Mr. Hyde’s point of view – and will have its readers questioning who the real monster really is
When two London friends find a doorway leading to a magical realm, they think they’re in luck – but Will Elliott’s raucous new novel has some nasty surprises in store for them
When a tech-savvy young man wakes up fourteen thousand years after entering suspended animation, he finds the galaxy radically altered – and his brother firmly in charge
Ancient magic talismans are almost always more trouble than they’re worth, but that doesn’t deter the rag-tag group of anti-heroes in Mark Smylie’s energetically readable debut novel
The larger-than-life story of captivity and struggles of King Richard the Lionheart
A dead street-boy haunts the latest adventure of Commissario Ricciardi in this series set in 1930s Naples
An affluent suburban family breaks apart and re-forms in this remarkably assured debut novel
The confession of a man found wandering naked in Central Park grows more and more problematic as it unfolds
A precocious young girl and her family travel far and wide from her beloved home of Cambridge, Massachusetts
Brandon Sanderson’s epic fantasy series set on a storm-raked world continues
A twelve-year-old boy gains the assistance of a weathered ex-ranger in this tale of a rapidly-vanishing Old West
A dogged police inspector investigates two gruesome murders at the heart of Ghana’s booming new oil economy
Russia and the West, talking past each other, have blundered into conflict over Ukraine. Some commentators on the American left aren’t behaving much differently.
If the idea of a big collection of writings about socio-linguistics by the author of “The Name of the Rose” strikes you as a winning way to spend a weekend, Harvard University Press has some good news for you.
A murder at the bottom of an alien ocean looks likely to spark an interstellar war
An exuberant collection of essays and reviews by trailblazing natural historian Tim Flannery
14th century court poet John Gower is brought in by his friend Geoffrey Chaucer to solve the mystery of a book whose very existence threatens the realm
A seemingly random murder leads our hero Sebastian St. Cyr into the dark and dangerous world of international espionage in C. S. Harris’s latest novel
In 1537, teenager Cosimo dei Medici became the first citizen of Florence, and in the following decades, he set about fashioning a ‘sacral’ rulership for himself – a complicated process at the heart of this fascinating new study
A quick-witted and bilingual dwarf is planted in the household of England’s foreign queen in order to spy on her – but he comes to esteem her, outcast to outcast
An exceptional beauty entices King Charles II and ascends to the heights of the Merry Monarch’s court
In an amazing science fiction debut, a New Yorker awakens in a strange new world
CIA super-agent John Wells needs to get back in the field and feel the old adrenaline pumping again – but will his latest adventure (featuring a dastardly nuclear plot and a shadowy female operative with a Biblical code-name) be more than he bargained for?
A key figure in the founding of the modern Middle East finally gets his definitive English-language biography
The Scarlet Letter? Moby-Dick? Gone with the Wind? Gravity’s Rainbow? Just what IS the “Great American Novel” anyway?
Jonathan Rottenberg’s new book contends that the modern world’s epidemic of depression is made all the worse by society’s tendency to stigmatize the victims themselves
Long-time novelist Penelope Lively turns 80 – and turns to memoir-writing
We mourn the death of the great Canadian short story writer Mavis Gallant and are re-running Karen Vanuska’s moving appreciation from 2009 in tribute.
In Alexandria as a young man, Gordianus the Finder gets caught up in an elaborate scheme to steal the corpse of Alexander the Great!
An unassuming botanist gets separated from his exploration team and finds himself stranded alone on Mars – and his survival rests entirely in his own hands.
The vivid story of the months when the long, slogging stalemate of the First World War exploded into violence
John Steinbeck’s bestselling and universally-lauded novel gets a passionate and persuasive reading by a renowned Steinbeck scholar
The lovers in Elizabeth Michels’ new novel get off to a rapturous, then a rocky start – and when next they meet, a year later, the real games begin
A strong-willed countess and a dynamic sailor become Shakespearean-style star-crossed lovers in Christy English’s latest novel
The daughter of a famous novelist has her own life take on a decidedly fairy-tale twist in Tessa Dare’s new novel
A strong woman and a weak man must make a perilous journey from the Western frontier to the East Coast in Glendon Swarthout’s newly-reissued classic novel
Armies clash and the technological stakes are raised in the latest installment in David Weber’s rip-roaring “Safehold” series
A young woman is murdered on the eve of Italy’s tumultuous win in the 1982 World Cup – and then 24 years later, on the eve of another World Cup victory, more bodies start turning up, and it’s up to one haunted, damaged cop to piece the mystery together (hint: it’s not hooligans)
The life of one remarkable woman – told against the backdrop of American colonies boiling toward revolution – forms the narrative of Nancy Turner’s sumptuously old-fashioned new historical novel
A new dual-biography of James Madison and his wife Dolley sees them through some of fledgling America’s most trying times
An extraordinary 40 CD box-set compiles the uncollected glories of the great classical label Westminster Records
The image of Abraham Lincoln – the saintly, martyred Great Emancipator – is a permanent fixture of human culture … but a fascinating new book takes a detailed look at the men who carefully crafted that image
Sherlock Holmes’s legendary nemesis Professor Moriarty returns – as super-sleuth hero of a new thriller involving a threat to Queen Victoria’s throne and the nation itself
In chaos-plagued Beirut, a voracious reader lives an oddly fulfilling secret life
Kafka’s immortal story about a man who wakes up one day and finds he’s an insect gets a sterling new translation
The engrossing first volume of a very promising new fantasy series
A retired small-town music professor becomes an unlikely fugitive from the law in Richard Powers’ latest novel
When an ordinary man pulls an arrow from the wing of a crane, extraordinary things begin to happen in the new novel by Patrick Ness
Don’t be fooled by the “Rebecca” echoes – there’s a lot more to Rachel Pastan’s “Alena” than mere Manderley-redux
One of the brightest stars in the sci-fi/fantasy night sky writes about the interesting stuff she’s been re-reading
Now in paperback, the latest adventure of William Shakespeare’s crime-sleuthing, spy-hunting brother John!
If you’re expecting Heloise to make an appearance in this captivating work of scholarship, you’ll be disappointed – but not for long, since scholar John Marendbon manages quite well without her
A fiery German princess in disguise is hiding in London from the threat of an assassin – but her subterfuge throws her right into the arms of the most handsome man she’s ever seen (who has dark secrets of his own, naturally, this being a romance novel and all!)
A new collection of old short stories from the writer of “The Flame Alphabet”
Three of Ian Rankin’s most popular recurring characters come together in his irresistible latest novel
The sprawling, disjointed history of the Habsburg Empire forms the backdrop for Simon Winder’s latest combination of history lesson and personal essay.
A hefty new anthology collects hundreds of years worth of poetry about the wars, pestilences, triumphs, and plagues poets endured and tried to capture in verse
Frederick Delius can be an acquired taste. Now a new recording tries to win listeners over with some of his most intriguing compositions. Norman Lebrecht reviews.
Sixteen years ago, young mercenary Eddie LaCrosse saved a baby girl from an angry bear and found her a good home far from trouble – or so he thought. Sixteen years later, that baby girl is all grown up and at the heart of all the trouble in the world in Alex Bledsoe’s latest nifty sword-and-sorcery novel
From the best-selling author of “Loving Frank” comes the story of Fanny Osbourne, the wife of Robert Louis Stevenson
As if our intrepid American-born doctor Thomas Silkstone didn’t have enough problems on his hand, a great monstrous FOG is engulfing the English countryside!
The philosopher who wrote “A Treatise on Human Nature” was famous in his own lifetime for an immense work of quite a different nature; a new book looks again at “The History of England”
What explains the similarities of animal forms scattered across the wide expanses of the world? A terrific new book makes the case that life persistently wanders.
A cocky young Wall Street analyst makes a discovery that could point to a new and deadly kind of war
For many years he was known as the man who left his skull to the Royal Shakespeare Company for use in the gravediggers’ scene in Hamlet. But a new album showcases André Tchaikovsky’s inimitable music.
An extremely generous collection of letters by the great 20th century tastemaker in books, Malcolm Cowley
The indomitable 17th century midwife Bridget Hodgson returns in another thrilling murder mystery
DC Comics rolls out a lovely anthology of some high points in the long career of the Man of Steel
Touching photos and essays testify to the wonder of old dogs
In a fantasy version of LA where sorcerous captains of industry wage war against the gods, a conflicted young ‘risk manager’ works to prevent a dark plot from poisoning millions of people
A sultry medium in 1920s San Francisco meets an alluring scapegrace laboring under a malicious hex
A princess without a country makes the audacious decision to take a lover, despite anything society might think.
An elite secret black ops team must mobilize to find one of their own in Stephanie Tyler’s latest “Section 8″ novel
Eighty short entries attempt the mission impossible of charting ‘how to be a man’ – and leave our female reviewer kind of wishing they’d just sent chocolates instead.
From Hercules to Theseus to Odysseus to Socrates, the heroes of ancient Greek mythology bring an entire lost world to vivid life. A new book goes to great – even heroic – lengths to decode those heroes
That age-old happy nostrum – the inherent superiority of human beings over all other life in the universe – gets its scientific Sunday best polished and pressed
Feel like starting up a literary magazine? Why the hell not!
One of the biggest success stories among the world’s language gets a genial history
A vivid look at the culture and politics that led to Japan’s ill-fated attack on Pearl Harbor
The controversial historian returns with a new alarm-call about the rise of international antisemitism
A group of extra-dimensional retainers must protect their exiled prince – but he doesn’t know who he is, and they don’t either.
Two professors – with oceanside views – take readers on a hundred-year history of the world’s coolest sport
A prickly-smart new analysis contends that we too easily simplify the great World War I battle of Verdun
One of the 20th Century’s greatest poets finally gets her definitive biography
After fifteen years, the fantastic “Anno Dracula” series continues
A quarter-century after its first appearance, a beloved popular-science classic gets a new reprint
A new volume from the mighty Abbeville Press will warm your cold, withered heart if anything still can!
A legendary editor assembles the leading lights of science fiction for the new century – he hopes.
The album of the week is the unmatched choral music of James MacMillan and Capella Nova
Open Letters mourns the death of enchanting rogue Peter O’Toole.
There’s more than mere misery in the expertly-managed passage of events in Paul Rome’s debut novel
A quick-paced new history of not just of the city of Venice but of the remarkable men and women who strutted across its stage during the long centuries of its life
A life-long love of the Classics is distilled into a new translation of Homer’s Iliad
A life-long writer and editor looks back on his life
A massive new biography serves to remind us that war and politics were always intricately connected in the life of the Duke of Wellington
There’s a certain unforgettable sound that can only come from Hungarian composers; a new recording of György Kurtág’s Splinters suite captures it with bracing clarity
One of the first volumes of a new color reprint series from Marvel Comics features some high-flying adventures by the summer’s superhero star, the mighty Thor!
Fresh from chasing horse-thieves in wild Dakota territories, a rail-tough Theodore Roosevelt returned to New York City to face bandits of quite another sort – the Tammany Hall sort. A lean new history tells the great story.
Five remarkable men came together in 19th century St. Petersburg to challenge each other, compete with each other, inspire each other, and encourage each other – and some quite remarkable music resulted
The Zehetmair Quartet delivers a rich new recording of music by Beethoven, Bruckner, Hartmann and Holliger
The near- infinite abundance of the Internet may seem incredibly alluring, but in his new book David Mikics argues that it’s eating away at our ability to appreciate fully what we read. He offers rules and admonitions, as you might expect
The open frontier of self-publishing attracts a wide variety of pioneers – fiercely individual storytellers who for one reason or another have chosen a different path to realizing their writing dreams. One such pioneer is Jack Merridew, who at age 20 is already the author of two self-published works of fiction – and a successful YouTube creator as well. Open Letters talks with him about the brave new world of promoting your own dreams.
The great Natalie Dessay is back … this time singing movie soundtracks? Norman Lebrecht listens.
It’s an act of aggression in which the victim is the perpetrator, and it’s a crime for which the criminal cannot be punished: it’s suicide, and statistics show we’re in the middle of an epidemic of it. A thoughtful new book lays out the case for sticking around.
American diplomats and Foreign Service workers travel for America, negotiate for America, cheerlead for America, and sometimes die for America – a magnificent new book gives them the sweeping historical account they’ve always deserved.
A new book by Brad Stone on Amazon.com: does it make nice with the online Goliath, or brandish a slingshot?
Lang Lang unites with Sir Simon Rattle and the Berlin Symphony Orchestra unite to perform two of the world’s most show-stopping piano concertos
A big new volume studies Napoleon Bonaparte from the peak of his power to the last days of his final exile
A born warrior striving to become a refined gentleman, or a refined gentleman striving to learn a warrior’s ways? A new book looks at Washington the military commander
They’ve always been among us, those rare individuals we call geniuses – but the distinction’s meaning has subtly altered over the centuries. It’s a big, interesting subject, boiled down by Darrin McMahon into a short, interesting book
Every reader of history has heard of Pickett’s Charge, the so-called high-tide mark of the Confederate cause, but the author of a new book contends that the true pivotal point was another charge altogether, led by a different man – on a different day.
A quirky teenage girl comes home one day to find her father missing, and she quickly learns he’s being held hostage. When she sets herself to save him, Arin Greenwood’s YA novel “Save the Enemy” is off and running – and sometimes tripping over itself
A great conductor writes a great biography about a great composer!
King George VI and Winston Churchill forged a remarkable working relationship during the trying years of World War II – a new book looks at how it happened, and why
Strong-willed Southern governor Cooper Lanier’s husband is running for president, and she’s learning things about him she’d rather not know in Robert Inman’s warm and involving new novel
First in war, first in peace, first in line for the powers of a god
The great critic and memoirist Clive James has a volume of new poems doing some very old things
Michael Palmer, 1942-2013
The strangest, most alien creatures on the Earth have three hearts and big, unfathomable brains – and, famously, eight arms. It’s the sprawling family of octopus species, and they get a soup-to-nuts examination in Katherine Harmon Courage’s new book
King Henry VIII’s first wife, Catherine of Aragon, takes center stage in a new novel by Tudor historian Carolly Erickson
Coyotes prowl our golf courses, cougars haunt our bike-trails, and owls skinny-dip in our bird-baths – a new book looks at the wild animals that fill in the spaces of human cities
When the South Pacific opened up for Western exploration, ‘experimental gentlemen’ swarmed there to make discoveries – and to make history
It’s not every writer who can write a book that stays in print continuously for 300 years, but the author of “Gulliver’s Travels” is one of those writers. A lively new biography looks at the great Jonathan Swift
England’s ‘bluff king Hal’ is put under the microscope in a scathing new biography
Our reigning master of vigorous popular history takes on the most vigorous, popular English dynasty of them all
The much-vexed life of the last Stuart monarch gets a gripping, electrifyingly good new examination
A certain pristine elegance marks Paul Yoon’s latest book
Deutsche Grammophon brings forth a stunning recital at Wigmore Hall by Portuguese musicians Antonio Meneses & Maria Joao Pires. Norman Lebrecht reviews.
The ironic Grindhouse killing machine is back in Robert Rodriguez’s new movie
A new life of Jack London – by the world’s foremost authority on the man’s life and work.
Daniel Woodrell’s new novel may be slim, but it burns with the fiercest struggle of them all: the madness for survival
Now at last in an English translation: the heart-breaking, history-making memoir of the world’s greatest Czech writer
A master military historian joins the crowd writing about the outbreak of the First World War
A new collection of personal essays – some funny, some touching, all piercingly intelligent – from one of America’s greatest cultural critics
Congratulations to Alice Munro, winner of the 2013 Nobel Prize in Literature and, in the words of the prize committee, “master of the contemporary short story.” Small in its explicit scope but rich in meaning, …
“‘Pride and Prejudice’ meets ‘Downton Abbey'” is an easy way to pigeon-hole Jo Baker’s new novel – but it’s the cheapest way too, giving almost no hint of just how good a book this is.
Pianist Boris Giltburg’s somber, beautiful new album shows a heartening independent spirit. Norman Lebrecht reviews.
David Abulafia’s big book – now in paperback – tackles a subject pivotal to huge swaths of human history: the Mediterraean, that watery intersection of Europe, Asia, and Africa
The famous novelist presents some essays by a pre-war Viennese intellectual and helps us all to understand those works.
Before he became one of America’s most famous presidents, John Kennedy was a hot-shot senator and a photogenic winner of the Pulitzer Prize. But did the Senate years help to form the Oval Office years?
A master historian analyzes the tempestuous relationship between two titans of the newborn United States
The songs to My Fair Lady, sung in German? Just one of the idiosyncrasies of Diana Damrau’s irresistible new vocal album.
The cult favorite HBO western inspires an anthology of essays devoted to the show’s most outrageous feature: its language (foul and otherwise)
The first great era of Marvel Comics’ immortal superhero (and present-day cinematic star), the Might Thor, is given a deluxe hardcover reprint volume
The author of the hit “The World Without Us” returns with a new book in which he ponders whether or not a world WITH us is even possible – and what it would cost.
A riveting new book looks at the catastrophe that befell Germany’s Jewish performers and composers when the Nazis came to power.
In 1832, nineteen-year-old Richard Wagner composed two piano sonatas in an effort to fill the vacuum left by Beethoven’s death. Norman Lebrecht discusses the results.
A symposium of distinguished scholars dissects the wildly ambitious and varied artistic life of the great William Kent
A young man born and raised in the wild of Yosemite Valley is forced into a series of confrontations with an encroaching outside world.
Behold: a near perfect album. German baritone Matthias Goerne soars in a new recording of the music of Hanns Eisler.
A big, riveting new history looks at the unforgettable men and women who filled the history of the most tumultuous three-decade span in American history
What if each one of the original 79 ‘Star Trek’ TV episodes had instead been a full-length movie? A stellar new collection of the posters for those movies boldly goes where no theater-goer has gone before
The hero of David Levithan’s “Every Day” – now out in paperback – lives his life as a spirit inhabiting the lives of others, until something happens that makes him want his own reality
Bald and ruthless interplanetary badass Riddick is back, played by the man who made him a cult sci-fi favorite
The popular teacher and blogger collects her most memorable book reviews from the last dozen years
A magnificent new volume tours Egyptian history – starting a mind-bogglingly long time ago
An exhaustive – and immensely enjoyable – line-by-line examination of Shakespeare’s final play
While Henry VIII was away fighting the French, his kingdom was invaded from the north by James of Scotland. It was defended by thousands of brave soldiers, a handful of ambitious courtiers – and one remarkable woman.
Pretty young Audrey has grown up in the Tudor court thinking she’s the daughter of King Henry VIII’s tailor – but what if her real father is the king himself?
In Michael Shea’s new novel, an insane movie producer seeks vengeance on the wily extras who eluded his grasp – it’s a delightful riff on late-night sci-fi movies … and a reminder of what sharp fun good science fiction can be.
A. C. Crispin
The gap between reality and the words with which people try to capture it lies at the heart of Dan Beachy-Quick’s intelligent, lyrical novel