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Articles in OL Weekly

Book Review: The Sea House

April 20, 2014
the sea house cover

In Elisabeth Gifford’s impressive debut, two couples, separated by a century, each confront Scotland’s legends of the seal-folk.

Book Review: Strange Glory

April 20, 2014
strange glory cover

The famous clerical martyr to the Nazi regime is the subject of a powerful new biography

Book Review: The Price of Silence

April 20, 2014
the price of silence cover

The notorious Duke Lacrosse rape case – and its tawdry aftermath – is the subject of a veteran journalist’s big new book

Book Review: A Great & Wretched City

April 20, 2014
a great and wretched city cover

A fascinating new book looks at the long political and historical writings of the author of “The Prince”

Book Review: The Intellectual Life of Edmund Burke

April 16, 2014
the intellectual life of edmund burke cover

A splendidly brainy new intellectual biography gives us the mind-life of the great orator, writer, and parliamentarian Edmund Burke

Book Review: The Annotated Northanger Abbey

April 15, 2014
annotated northanger abbey cover

Jane Austen’s posthumous send-up of Gothic novels (and their breathless readers) gets a lavish annotated edition

Book Review: The Medici Boy

April 14, 2014
Book Review: The Medici Boy

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

Book Review: Prayers for the Stolen

April 12, 2014
prayers for the stolen cover

The plight of young girls in slavery-blighted Mexico is the crux of a harrowing novel

Book Review: The Galapagos

April 11, 2014
the galapagos cover

The beautiful Galapagos islands – home to finches, tortoises, and active magma – are the subject of a delightful new study

Book Review: Jack the Ripper – The Forgotten Victims

April 10, 2014
jack the ripper cover

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

Book Review: The Double-Crested Cormorant

April 9, 2014
the double-breasted cormorant cover

That sleek and elegant diving-bird, the double-crested cormorant, faces deep-seated prejudices – and disastrous legal measures – in North America, its ancestral home

Book Review: Lord Dismiss Us

April 9, 2014
lord dismiss us cover

A fantastic British boarding-school novel from another age gets a pretty reprint

Book Review: Louisa Catherine – The Other Mrs. Adams

April 5, 2014
louisa catherine cover

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

Book Review: Wilfred Owen

April 5, 2014
wilfred owen cover

Robert Graves lived to be 90.

Book Review: Roosevelt’s Beast

April 4, 2014
roosevelt’s beast cover

Deep in the Brazilian wilderness, Theodore Roosevelt and his son encounter a mysterious beast who kills without leaving any tracks

Book Review: The Red Lily Crown

April 2, 2014
the red lily crown

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

Book Review: Queen Elizabeth’s Daughter

April 1, 2014
queen elizabeth’s daughter

Idealistic young Mary Shelton finds love at the Tudor Court – but it’s not the love her Queen has chosen for her

Book Review: The Cemetery of Swallows

March 31, 2014
the cemetery of swallows cover

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

Book Review: The Time Traveler’s Almanac

March 28, 2014
time traveler’s almanac

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

Book Review: Queen Caroline

March 26, 2014
queen caroline cover

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

Book Review: The Sixth Extinction

March 25, 2014
the sixth extinction

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

Book Review: The Lady of Sorrows

March 24, 2014
the lady of sorrows cover

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

Book Review: Hyde

March 23, 2014
hyde cover

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

Book Review: The Pilgrims

March 22, 2014
the pilgrims cover

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

Book Review: Lockstep

March 20, 2014
lockstep cover

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

Book Review: The Barrow

March 19, 2014
the barrow cover

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

Book Review: A King’s Ransom

March 18, 2014
king’s ransom cover

The larger-than-life story of captivity and struggles of King Richard the Lionheart

Book Review: The Day of the Dead

March 17, 2014
day of the dead cover

A dead street-boy haunts the latest adventure of Commissario Ricciardi in this series set in 1930s Naples

Book Review: The Land of Steady Habits

March 16, 2014
Book Review: The Land of Steady Habits

An affluent suburban family breaks apart and re-forms in this remarkably assured debut novel

Book Review: The Headmaster’s Wife

March 16, 2014
the headmaster’s wife cover

The confession of a man found wandering naked in Central Park grows more and more problematic as it unfolds

Book Review: Cambridge

March 16, 2014
cambridge cover

A precocious young girl and her family travel far and wide from her beloved home of Cambridge, Massachusetts

Book Review: Words of Radiance

March 11, 2014
words of radiance cover

Brandon Sanderson’s epic fantasy series set on a storm-raked world continues

Book Review: Road to Reckoning

March 11, 2014
road to reckoning cover

A twelve-year-old boy gains the assistance of a weathered ex-ranger in this tale of a rapidly-vanishing Old West

Book Review: Murder at Cape Three Points

March 10, 2014
murder at cape three points

A dogged police inspector investigates two gruesome murders at the heart of Ghana’s booming new oil economy

Policy Papers: Ukraine and the Left

March 8, 2014

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.

Book Review: From the Tree to the Labyrinth

March 7, 2014
from the tree to the labyrinth

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.

Book Review: A Darkling Sea

March 6, 2014
a darkling sea cover

A murder at the bottom of an alien ocean looks likely to spark an interstellar war

Book Review: An Explorer’s Notebook

March 5, 2014
an explorer’s notebook

An exuberant collection of essays and reviews by trailblazing natural historian Tim Flannery

Book Review: A Burnable Book

March 4, 2014
a burnable book cover

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

Book Review: Why Kings Confess

March 3, 2014
why kings confess cover

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

Book Review: The Medicean Succession

March 2, 2014
the medicean succession cover

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

Book Review: The Queen’s Dwarf

February 27, 2014
The Queen’s Dwarf

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

Book Review: Girl on the Golden Coin

February 26, 2014
girl on the golden coin

An exceptional beauty entices King Charles II and ascends to the heights of the Merry Monarch’s court

Book Review: The Waking Engine

February 25, 2014
the waking engine cover

In an amazing science fiction debut, a New Yorker awakens in a strange new world

Book Review: The Counterfeit Agent

February 24, 2014
alex berenson

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?

Book Review: Faisal I of Iraq

February 23, 2014
faisal i of iraq

A key figure in the founding of the modern Middle East finally gets his definitive English-language biography

Book Review: The Dream of the Great American Novel

February 22, 2014
the dream of the great american novel cover

The Scarlet Letter? Moby-Dick? Gone with the Wind? Gravity’s Rainbow? Just what IS the “Great American Novel” anyway?

Book Review: The Depths

February 21, 2014
the depths cover

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

Book Review: Dancing Fish and Ammonites

February 19, 2014
dancing fish and ammonites cover

Long-time novelist Penelope Lively turns 80 – and turns to memoir-writing

Second Glance: The Wit and Woe of Mavis Gallant

February 18, 2014

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.

Book Review: Raiders of the Nile

February 17, 2014
raiders of the nile cover

In Alexandria as a young man, Gordianus the Finder gets caught up in an elaborate scheme to steal the corpse of Alexander the Great!

Book Review: The Martian

February 16, 2014

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.

Book Review: Hundred Days

February 15, 2014
the hundred days cover

The vivid story of the months when the long, slogging stalemate of the First World War exploded into violence

In Paperback: On Reading “The Grapes of Wrath”

February 15, 2014
on reading grapes cover

John Steinbeck’s bestselling and universally-lauded novel gets a passionate and persuasive reading by a renowned Steinbeck scholar

Book Review: Must Love Dukes

February 14, 2014
must love dukes cover

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

Book Review: Much Ado About Jack

February 14, 2014
papp Paul!

A strong-willed countess and a dynamic sailor become Shakespearean-style star-crossed lovers in Christy English’s latest novel

Book Review: Romancing the Duke

February 14, 2014
romancing the duke inset

The daughter of a famous novelist has her own life take on a decidedly fairy-tale twist in Tessa Dare’s new novel

Classics Reissued: The Homesman

February 12, 2014
homesman cover

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

Book Review: Like a Mighty Army

February 11, 2014
like a mighty army cover

Armies clash and the technological stakes are raised in the latest installment in David Weber’s rip-roaring “Safehold” series

Book Review: The Deliverance of Evil

February 10, 2014
the deliverance of evil cover

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)

Book Review: My Name is Resolute

February 8, 2014
my name is resolute

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

Book Review: James & Dolley Madison

February 8, 2014
JamesandDolley cover

A new dual-biography of James Madison and his wife Dolley sees them through some of fledgling America’s most trying times

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – The Westminster Legacy

February 7, 2014

An extraordinary 40 CD box-set compiles the uncollected glories of the great classical label Westminster Records

Book Review: Lincoln’s Boys

February 4, 2014
lincoln’s boys cover

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

Book Review: Who Thinks Evil

February 3, 2014
who thinks evil cover

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

Philip Seymour Hoffman

February 2, 2014


Book Review: An Unnecessary Woman

February 1, 2014
an unnecessary woman cover

In chaos-plagued Beirut, a voracious reader lives an oddly fulfilling secret life

In Paperback: The Metamorphosis

January 31, 2014
bernofsky metamorphosis

Kafka’s immortal story about a man who wakes up one day and finds he’s an insect gets a sterling new translation

Book Review: The Emperor’s Blades

January 31, 2014
the emperor’s blades cover

The engrossing first volume of a very promising new fantasy series

Book Review: Orfeo

January 30, 2014
orfeo cover

A retired small-town music professor becomes an unlikely fugitive from the law in Richard Powers’ latest novel

Book Review: The Crane Wife

January 30, 2014
the crane wife cover

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

Book Review: Alena

January 30, 2014
alena cover

Don’t be fooled by the “Rebecca” echoes – there’s a lot more to Rachel Pastan’s “Alena” than mere Manderley-redux

Book Review: What Makes This Book So Great

January 28, 2014
what makes this book so great

One of the brightest stars in the sci-fi/fantasy night sky writes about the interesting stuff she’s been re-reading

In Paperback: The Heretics

January 27, 2014

Now in paperback, the latest adventure of William Shakespeare’s crime-sleuthing, spy-hunting brother John!

Now in Paperback: Abelard in Four Dimensions

January 22, 2014
abelard in four dimensions cover

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

Book Review: How to Master Your Marquis

January 22, 2014
how to master your marquis cover

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!)

Book Review: Leaving the Sea

January 21, 2014
leaving the sea cover

A new collection of old short stories from the writer of “The Flame Alphabet”

Book Review: Saints of the Shadow Bible

January 20, 2014
saints of the shadow bible cover

Three of Ian Rankin’s most popular recurring characters come together in his irresistible latest novel

Book Review: Danubia

January 17, 2014
danubia cover

The sprawling, disjointed history of the Habsburg Empire forms the backdrop for Simon Winder’s latest combination of history lesson and personal essay.

Book Review: Poetry of Witness

January 17, 2014
poetry of witness cover

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

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Delius in Norway

January 16, 2014

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.

Book Review: He Drank, and Saw the Spider

January 15, 2014
he drank and saw the spider cover

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

Book Review: Under the Wide and Starry Sky

January 14, 2014
under the wide and starry sky cover

From the best-selling author of “Loving Frank” comes the story of Fanny Osbourne, the wife of Robert Louis Stevenson

Book Review: The Devil’s Breath

January 13, 2014
sins of a wicked duke – jim griffin

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!

Book Review: David Hume, Historical Thinker, Historical Writer

January 12, 2014
david hume, historical writer

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”

Book Review: The Monkey’s Voyage

January 10, 2014
the monkey’s voyage

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.

Book Review: The Ascendant

January 10, 2014
liam hemsworth

A cocky young Wall Street analyst makes a discovery that could point to a new and deadly kind of war

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – André Tchaikovsky

January 8, 2014
TOCC 0204 Booklet Amended.indd

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.

Book Review: The Long Voyage

January 7, 2014
the long voyage cover

An extremely generous collection of letters by the great 20th century tastemaker in books, Malcolm Cowley

Book Review: The Harlot’s Tale

January 6, 2014
the harlot’s tale cover

The indomitable 17th century midwife Bridget Hodgson returns in another thrilling murder mystery

Book Review: Superman – A Celebration of 75 Years

January 5, 2014
superman john byrne

DC Comics rolls out a lovely anthology of some high points in the long career of the Man of Steel

Book Review: Beautiful Old Dogs

December 29, 2013

Touching photos and essays testify to the wonder of old dogs

Book Review: Two Serpents Rise

December 25, 2013
Two Serpents Rise cover

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

Book Review: Bitter Spirits

December 25, 2013
bitter spirts cover

A sultry medium in 1920s San Francisco meets an alluring scapegrace laboring under a malicious hex

Book Review: The Trouble with Princesses

December 25, 2013
the trouble with princesses cover

A princess without a country makes the audacious decision to take a lover, despite anything society might think.

Book Review: Unbreakable

December 25, 2013
unbreakable cover

An elite secret black ops team must mobilize to find one of their own in Stephanie Tyler’s latest “Section 8″ novel

Book Review: The Book of Men – Eighty Writers on How to Be a Man

December 24, 2013

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.

Book Review: The Ancient Greek Hero in 24 Hours

December 23, 2013
the ancient greek hero cover

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

Book Review: The Gap

December 23, 2013
the gap cover

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

Book Review: Paper Dreams

December 21, 2013
paper dreams cover

Feel like starting up a literary magazine? Why the hell not!

Book Review: Latin – Story of a World Language

December 21, 2013

One of the biggest success stories among the world’s language gets a genial history

Book Review: Japan 1941

December 20, 2013
japan 1941 cover

A vivid look at the culture and politics that led to Japan’s ill-fated attack on Pearl Harbor

Book Review: The Devil That Never Dies

December 20, 2013
the devil that never dies cover

The controversial historian returns with a new alarm-call about the rise of international antisemitism

Book Review: The Lost Prince

December 20, 2013
the lost prince cover

A group of extra-dimensional retainers must protect their exiled prince – but he doesn’t know who he is, and they don’t either.

Book Review: The World of the Curl

December 19, 2013
Orange County5/20

Two professors – with oceanside views – take readers on a hundred-year history of the world’s coolest sport

Book Review: Verdun

December 19, 2013

A prickly-smart new analysis contends that we too easily simplify the great World War I battle of Verdun

Book Review: Holding On Upside Down

December 19, 2013
holding on upside down

One of the 20th Century’s greatest poets finally gets her definitive biography

Book Review: Johnny Alucard

December 18, 2013
johnny alucard cover

After fifteen years, the fantastic “Anno Dracula” series continues

Classics Reissued: Cosmos

December 18, 2013
cosmos reprint

A quarter-century after its first appearance, a beloved popular-science classic gets a new reprint

Book Review: The Libertine

December 18, 2013

A new volume from the mighty Abbeville Press will warm your cold, withered heart if anything still can!

Book Review: 21st Century Science Fiction

December 17, 2013
21st century science fiction

A legendary editor assembles the leading lights of science fiction for the new century – he hopes.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – James MacMillan

December 17, 2013

The album of the week is the unmatched choral music of James MacMillan and Capella Nova

Peter O’Toole

December 15, 2013

Open Letters mourns the death of enchanting rogue Peter O’Toole.

Book Review: We All Sleep in the Same Room

December 13, 2013
we all sleep in the same room

There’s more than mere misery in the expertly-managed passage of events in Paul Rome’s debut novel

Book Review: The Venetians

December 12, 2013
the venetians

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

Book Review: Barry Powell’s Iliad

December 10, 2013
barry powell iliad

A life-long love of the Classics is distilled into a new translation of Homer’s Iliad

Book Review: My Mistake

December 8, 2013
my mistake

A life-long writer and editor looks back on his life

Book Review: Wellington, The Path to Victory

December 7, 2013
wellington rory muir

A massive new biography serves to remind us that war and politics were always intricately connected in the life of the Duke of Wellington

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Splinters

December 5, 2013

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

Comics: Thor – War of the Pantheons

December 4, 2013
Comics: Thor – War of the Pantheons

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!

Book Review: Heir to the Empire City

December 1, 2013
heir to the empire city

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.

Book Review: Musorgsky & His Circle

November 29, 2013

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

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – String Quartets

November 28, 2013

The Zehetmair Quartet delivers a rich new recording of music by Beethoven, Bruckner, Hartmann and Holliger

Book Review: Slow Reading in a Hurried Age

November 23, 2013
slow reading in a hurried age

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

Author Interview: Jack Merridew

November 21, 2013
teenage idol

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.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Natalie Dessay

November 20, 2013

The great Natalie Dessay is back … this time singing movie soundtracks? Norman Lebrecht listens.

Book Review: Stay

November 18, 2013

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.

Book Review: American Statecraft

November 16, 2013
american statecraft cover

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.

Book Review: The Everything Store

November 15, 2013
the everything store

A new book by Brad Stone on Amazon.com: does it make nice with the online Goliath, or brandish a slingshot?

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Lang Lang and Simon Rattle

November 13, 2013

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

Book Review: Citizen Emperor

November 12, 2013
Book Review: Citizen Emperor

A big new volume studies Napoleon Bonaparte from the peak of his power to the last days of his final exile

Book Review: George Washington – Gentleman Warrior

November 10, 2013

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

Book Review: Divine Fury

November 9, 2013
dvine fury cover

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

Book Review: Barksdale’s Charge

November 8, 2013
barksdale’s charge

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.

Book Review: Save the Enemy

November 7, 2013
save the enemy cover

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

Book Review – Bach: Music in the Castle of Heaven

November 5, 2013
bach music in the castle of heaven

A great conductor writes a great biography about a great composer!

Book Review: Churchill and the King

November 4, 2013
churchill and the king

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

Nick Cardy

November 4, 2013
nick cardy aquaman

Nick Cardy

Book Review: The Governor’s Lady

November 3, 2013

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

Book Review: ‘Mr. President’

November 1, 2013

First in war, first in peace, first in line for the powers of a god

Book Review: Nefertiti in the Flak Tower

October 31, 2013
nefertiti in the flak tower

The great critic and memoirist Clive James has a volume of new poems doing some very old things

Michael Palmer

October 31, 2013
mike palmer

Michael Palmer, 1942-2013

Book Review: Octopus!

October 30, 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

Book Review: The Spanish Queen

October 29, 2013
The Spanish Queen

King Henry VIII’s first wife, Catherine of Aragon, takes center stage in a new novel by Tudor historian Carolly Erickson

Book Review: The Urban Bestiary

October 27, 2013
02book”The Urban Bestiary” by Lyanda Lynn Haupt.

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

Book Review: Naturalists at Sea

October 26, 2013
naturalists at sea

When the South Pacific opened up for Western exploration, ‘experimental gentlemen’ swarmed there to make discoveries – and to make history

Book Review: Jonathan Swift

October 24, 2013
jonathan swift leo damrosch

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

Book Review: Henry VIII – The Life and Rule of England’s Nero

October 22, 2013

England’s ‘bluff king Hal’ is put under the microscope in a scathing new biography

Book Review: Tudors

October 21, 2013
tudors ackroyd

Our reigning master of vigorous popular history takes on the most vigorous, popular English dynasty of them all

Book Review: Queen Anne

October 18, 2013
queen anne cover

The much-vexed life of the last Stuart monarch gets a gripping, electrifyingly good new examination

Book Review: The Snow Hunters

October 17, 2013
snow hunters cover

A certain pristine elegance marks Paul Yoon’s latest book

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Antonio Meneses & Maria Joao Pires

October 16, 2013

Deutsche Grammophon brings forth a stunning recital at Wigmore Hall by Portuguese musicians Antonio Meneses & Maria Joao Pires. Norman Lebrecht reviews.

Guest Movie Review: Machete Kills

October 15, 2013

The ironic Grindhouse killing machine is back in Robert Rodriguez’s new movie

Book Review: Jack London, An American Life

October 15, 2013
Book Review: Jack London, An American Life

A new life of Jack London – by the world’s foremost authority on the man’s life and work.

Book Review: The Maid’s Version

October 13, 2013
the maid’s version cover

Daniel Woodrell’s new novel may be slim, but it burns with the fiercest struggle of them all: the madness for survival

Book Review: My Crazy Century

October 13, 2013
my crazy century hc

Now at last in an English translation: the heart-breaking, history-making memoir of the world’s greatest Czech writer

Book Review: Catastrophe 1914

October 12, 2013
catastrophe 1914 cover

A master military historian joins the crowd writing about the outbreak of the First World War

Book Review: My 1980s & Other Essays

October 12, 2013
my 1980s cover

A new collection of personal essays – some funny, some touching, all piercingly intelligent – from one of America’s greatest cultural critics

A New Laureate

October 10, 2013

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, …

Book Review: Longbourn

October 10, 2013
longbourn in color

“‘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.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Boris Giltburg

October 8, 2013

Pianist Boris Giltburg’s somber, beautiful new album shows a heartening independent spirit. Norman Lebrecht reviews.

In Paperback: The Great Sea

October 6, 2013
the great sea cover

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

Book Review: The Kraus Project

October 6, 2013
Book Review: The Kraus Project

The famous novelist presents some essays by a pre-war Viennese intellectual and helps us all to understand those works.

Book Review: Jefferson and Hamilton

October 4, 2013
jefferson and hamilton

A master historian analyzes the tempestuous relationship between two titans of the newborn United States

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Diana Damrau

October 2, 2013

The songs to My Fair Lady, sung in German? Just one of the idiosyncrasies of Diana Damrau’s irresistible new vocal album.

Book Review: Dirty Words in Deadwood

October 1, 2013
dirty words in deadwood cover

The cult favorite HBO western inspires an anthology of essays devoted to the show’s most outrageous feature: its language (foul and otherwise)

Comics: Thor Omnibus Volume 2

September 28, 2013
thor and hela

The first great era of Marvel Comics’ immortal superhero (and present-day cinematic star), the Might Thor, is given a deluxe hardcover reprint volume

Book Review: Countdown

September 28, 2013
countdown cover

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.

Book Review: Forbidden Music

September 27, 2013
forbidden music

A riveting new book looks at the catastrophe that befell Germany’s Jewish performers and composers when the Nazis came to power.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Wagner’s Piano Sonatas

September 25, 2013

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.

Book Review: William Kent

September 22, 2013

A symposium of distinguished scholars dissects the wildly ambitious and varied artistic life of the great William Kent

Book Review: Graphic the Valley

September 20, 2013
graphic the valley

A young man born and raised in the wild of Yosemite Valley is forced into a series of confrontations with an encroaching outside world.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Hanns Eisler: Serious Songs

September 19, 2013

Behold: a near perfect album. German baritone Matthias Goerne soars in a new recording of the music of Hanns Eisler.

Book Review: Ecstatic Nation

September 15, 2013
ecstatic nation cover

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

Book Review: Star Trek – The Art of Juan Ortiz

September 12, 2013
Star Trek Juan Ortiz

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

In Paperback: Every Day

September 10, 2013
every day

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

Guest Movie Review: Riddick

September 9, 2013

Bald and ruthless interplanetary badass Riddick is back, played by the man who made him a cult sci-fi favorite

Book Review: Confronting the Classics

September 9, 2013
confronting the classics

The popular teacher and blogger collects her most memorable book reviews from the last dozen years

Book Review: A History of Ancient Egypt

September 9, 2013
hisory of ancient egypt

A magnificent new volume tours Egyptian history – starting a mind-bogglingly long time ago

Book Review: Shakespeare’s Prince

September 8, 2013
shakespeare’s prince

An exhaustive – and immensely enjoyable – line-by-line examination of Shakespeare’s final play

Book Review: Fatal Rivalry

September 8, 2013
Fatal Rivalry Flodden

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.

Book Review: Royal Inheritance

September 8, 2013
royal inheritance tp

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?

Book Review: Assault on Sunrise

September 7, 2013
Book Review: Assault on Sunrise

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

September 7, 2013
annie crispin

A. C. Crispin

Book Review: An Impenetrable Screen of Purest Sky

September 6, 2013
purest sky

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

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Rustic Wedding Symphony

September 5, 2013

Karl Goldmark’s lively second symphony is a lyric celebration of life’s great moments in lush orchestration. Norman Lebrecht reviews a fizzy new recording.

Book Review: In the Olden Time

September 4, 2013
franz winterhalter – the first of may, 1851

Victorian historical painting and Victorian historical fiction met in a glorious collaboration of national mythology. Andrew Sanders, in a magnificent new study from Yale University Press, gives that collaboration a delightfully thorough questioning.

Frederik Pohl

September 3, 2013
fred pohl and ariel

Frederik Pohl

Mick Herron on Chasing After Smiley

September 2, 2013

Mick Herron, author of the celebrated spy novel Dead Lions, opens up about the influence of the godfather of his genre, John le Carré

Book Review: Two Boys Kissing

September 1, 2013
two boys kissing

In bestselling author David Levithan’s new novel, two boys try to set a world’s record for the longest kiss – and their adventure is cheered on by the most unlikely chorus

Book Review: Ninety Percent of Everything

August 31, 2013
rose george

International shipping provides virtually everything around you as you read this (including the computer you’re reading it on), and yet most people no nothing about this reclusive industry. Rose George’s new book sheds some light.

Seamus Heaney

August 30, 2013
shay heaney

Seamus Heaney

Book Review: Armor and Blood

August 30, 2013
armor and blood

The Battle of Kursk was one of the most epic confrontations in the history of warfare – a vivid new history calls it the turning point of the entire Second World War

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Kuniko Kato

August 29, 2013

Kuniko Kato, percussion virtuoso, uses marimbas, crotales, bells and vibraphones to adapt the work of classical composers

Book Review: I’d Know You Anywhere, My Love

August 29, 2013
Book Review: I’d Know You Anywhere, My Love

No matter how an imaginative child might shape-shift, a mother’s love follows right along in Nancy Tillman’s enchanting new picture book

Book Review: Planet Without Apes

August 23, 2013
planet without apes.jpg

More than at any point in their collective history, mankind’s great ape cousins face the threat of total extinction. A passionate new book outlines all the threats – and clings to some hope

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Vladimir Horowitz in London

August 21, 2013

In 1982, Vladimir came to London and gave his first recital in Europe in 31 years. The release of that performance is something no piano lover can do without.

Book Review: Trash Animals

August 21, 2013
trash animals

Rats, snakes, gulls, cockroaches, and half a dozen other notorious varmints – a delightful new anthology takes readers deep inside the world of the animals they love to hate

In Paperback: Life in a Shell

August 20, 2013
life in a shell

A new paperback explores the mysteries of turtles

Book Review: Year’s Best Science Fiction

August 19, 2013
dozois thirty

The powerhouse annual science fiction anthology series turns thirty with a new collection drawn from all the sci-fi periodicals of the English-speaking world

Book Review: The Selected Letters of Anthony Hecht

August 18, 2013
hecht in iowa city

The great 20th century poet Anthony Hecht was also a charming and indefatigable letter-writer. A new volume does its best to capture the range and wit that captivated two generations of correspondents.

In Theaters: City of Bones

August 17, 2013
city of bones movie

Cassandra Clare’s phenomenally popular novel about a young woman who learns she’s a born demon-hunter comes at last to the big screen

Book Review: The Twelve Caesars

August 15, 2013
the twelve caesars dennison

The ancient Roman historian Suetonius wrote such a rollicking, gossipy book about the first twelve emperors that historians have been re-writing his book ever since

Book Review: The Letters of T. S. Eliot

August 11, 2013
eliot letters

The exhaustive Yale edition of the complete correspondence of T. S. Eliot reaches a very busy period in the life of Eliot the editor and businessman, working away at the center of a vast and fascinating literary world

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Peter Grimes

August 7, 2013

In June, Britten’s “Peter Grimes” was staged on the beach at the Aldeburgh Festival of Music. The results, Norman Lebrecht writes, were remarkable.

Book Review: Benjamin Britten – A Life For Music

August 7, 2013

The great – and problematic – 20th century composer gets a broad-minded and intensely sensitive new biography

Classics Reissued: Thoreau’s Essays

August 6, 2013
thoreau essays

“In the winter, I stop short in the path to admire how the trees grow up without forethought, regardless of time and circumstances. They do not wait as man does …” A beautiful new edition of Henry David Thoreau’s essays.

Book Review: Extra Sensory

August 4, 2013

The long-rumored psychic powers of the human brain get a high-spirited new examination.

Book Review: Long, Obstinate, and Bloody

August 3, 2013
long, obstinate

A crucial turning-point battle in the American Revolution is given an extensively detailed and tradition-challenging new history

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Artur Schnabel

August 1, 2013

The great Austrian pianist Artur Schnabel was in his mind a composer first and foremost. Norman Lebrecht reviews a recording of his piano works.

Book Review: The Warbler Guide

August 1, 2013

Roger Tory Peterson called them “the butterflies of the bird world” – they’re wood warblers, and when it comes to identifying and understanding them, Princeton University Press has published the Bible

Book Review: The White Princess

August 1, 2013
the white princess

“The Cousins’ War” – Philippa Gregory’s ongoing novelization of the Wars of the Roses – reaches an epic turning point in her latest book, about the precarious founding of the Tudor dynasty

Book Review: The Men Who Lost America

July 31, 2013
Book Review: The Men Who Lost America

Clinton, Gage, Burgoyne, the Howe brothers – and of course Lord Cornwallis: their names are synonymous in the United States with bumbling defeat, but a rousing new book takes a fresh look at all these formerly infamous figures

Guest Movie Review: The Wolverine

July 30, 2013
Guest Movie Review: The Wolverine

Hugh Jackman reprises his beloved role as the X-Men’s hairy clawed Canadian killer, Wolverine

Book Review: The Anglo-Saxon World

July 30, 2013
Book Review: The Anglo-Saxon World

A wonderfully-illutrated new volume brings together the latest research about the glittering era that brought us the Sutton Hoo treasure, the epic of Beowulf, and the deep sediment of law

Book Review: Signatures of Life

July 29, 2013
signatures of life

A popular science writer looks at the evidence for life on other planets

Book Review: Night Pilgrims

July 28, 2013

The latest events in the life of immortal, imperturbable Count Saint-Germain find him in Crusades-era Egypt

Book Review: Insert Title Here

July 27, 2013
ship of war – russell

Rousing naval action and atmospheric period drama share the stage in S. Thomas Russell’s latest novel, by any other name

Guest Movie Review: RED 2

July 26, 2013

The old cast from “RED” reunites, along with some new faces – but is this sequel already showing cracks and wrinkles?

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Down by the Sea

July 24, 2013

It’s only July, but Norman Lebrecht may have found his choral album of the year. A review of the magnificent folk songs in Naxos’s “Down by the Sea.”

Book Review: Eleanor and Park

July 23, 2013
eleanor and park

Two teenage misfits – neither vampires nor aliens – form an unlikely alliance that blossoms, naturally, into something more

Book Review: Summertime, All the Cats are Bored

July 22, 2013

A bored cop in a beautiful French Mediterranean town is suddenly confronted with a genuine murder mystery in the middle of a typical tourist summer

Book Review: Kafka – The Years of Insight

July 21, 2013
Book Review: Kafka – The Years of Insight

The latest volume in the author’s magnificent multi-volume biography covers the last years of Kafka’s life – years marked by passionate affairs, political upheavals, and the shadow of his final illness

In Paperback: Kafka – The Decisive Years

July 21, 2013
kafka years of insight

Now in an attractive reprint from Princeton: the first volume in Reiner Stach’s towering multi-volume biography of the 20th century’s troubled literary godfather

Helen Thomas

July 20, 2013

Helen Thomas

Book Review: Franz Kafka, The Poet of Shame and Guilt

July 19, 2013
Book Review: Franz Kafka, The Poet of Shame and Guilt

A short Kafka biography by a renowned historian makes some unconventional interpretations of the 20th century’s most enigmatic writer

Book Review: Hidden Order

July 19, 2013
hidden order

There’s gunplay, there’s skullduggery, there’s the Federal Reserve, and there’s the good old Freedom Trail – what more does a reader need on the arc from La Guardia to LAX?

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Raluca Stirbat

July 17, 2013

In her newest release, Romanian pianist Raluca Stirbat turns out some exceptionally supple recitals of Bartok and Debussy

Guest Movie Review: Grown Ups 2

July 16, 2013
6Seriously, the BEST part

Endless back-flips alone, Mr. Anderson wryly observes, cannot save a film.

Book Review: The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.

July 15, 2013
love affairs nate p

A self-absorbed young Brooklyn writer (what else?) goes from relationship to relationship in search of … what, exactly?

Book Review: Weird Detectives

July 15, 2013
weird detectives

In an entertaining new collection of good old stories, the boundary-line between Sam Spade and Mandrake the Magician is considerably blurred …

Book Review: The Shadow King

July 13, 2013
shadow king

After an unearthly quiet of nearly three thousand years, he’s been the idol of the world for nearly a century – he’s the boy-pharaoh Tutankhamun, and Jo Marchant makes his old story new again

Book Review: 1940

July 13, 2013

A spirited new account of the divisive American presidential election race that was held amidst the growing clamor of European war

Book Review: Sea Change

July 12, 2013

An inquisitive young woman falls in love with an ungainly, weirdly sophisticated alien creature

Book Review: Homeward Bound

July 11, 2013
homeward  bound

A journalist looks at the movement among middle class American women of the ‘millennial’ generation toward embracing the domestic tasks their mothers and grandmothers cast off

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Timo Andres

July 10, 2013

In his new album “Home Stretch,” Timo Andres adapts–or is the word mauls?–some classic Mozart compositions

Guest Movie Review: Despicable Me 2

July 9, 2013
5The neighborhood lawn wars get a little out of hand

The reformed super-villain and his minions return in Illumination Entertainment’s sequel to their surprise hit in “Despicable Me 2″

Arthur Rosenthal

July 9, 2013
artie rosenthal

Arthur Rosenthal

Book Review: Nelson – The Sword of Albion

July 9, 2013
nelson sword of albion

A monumental deck-clearing two-volume biography of Admiral Horatio Nelson reaches its thundering conclusion

Book Review: Gettysburg – The Last Invasion

July 6, 2013
gettysburg the last invasion

In a magnificent new history, the cataclysmic turning-point battle of the American Civil War is studied in meticulous detail

Book Review: Our Lives, Our Fortunes & Our Sacred Honor

July 5, 2013
our lives

Richard Beeman’s new book covers some familiar – sacred? – ground

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Elliott Carter

July 3, 2013

A collection of uncommonly whimsical music highlights a retrospective album of the late composer Elliott Carter. Norman Lebrecht listens, and smiles.

Guest Movie Review: The Heat

July 2, 2013
6This can’t possibly go wrong

It’s a fairly by-the-numbers summer buddy-cop movie – with one important difference!

Book Review: Deprivation

July 2, 2013
Book Review: Deprivation

A young man slips in and out of seductive dream realities in Alex Jeffers’ fantastic latest novel

In Paperback: The Long Road to Antietam

June 30, 2013
long road to antietam

The bloodiest day in United States history is the subject of Richard Slotkin’s riveting book, now out in paperback

In Paperback: 2312

June 30, 2013

In Kim Stanley Robinson’s epic space opera – now out in paperback – the mankind of two centuries hence has conquered space and colonized the solar system, but as usual, it carries its own dark side wherever it goes

Classics Reissued: The Authority

June 27, 2013
Classics Reissued: The Authority

A new hardcover reprint presents a pivotal comic book run to new fans and old fans alike. Open Letters talks with its go-to comics expert Justin Hickey about the definitive story arc of “The Authority”

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Paul Ben-Haim

June 26, 2013
CHAN 10769

A new album of the chamber music of one of Israel’s foremost composer’s, Paul Ben-Haim. Norman Lebrecht listens.

Guest Movie Review: Monsters University

June 25, 2013

Pixar’s latest is a prequel: the story of how Mike and Sully from “Monsters, Inc.” first met

Book Review: Disraeli – The Romance of Politics

June 23, 2013
Book Review: Disraeli – The Romance of Politics

Tradition has it that Victorian Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli wrote his novels to make a name (and a fortune) for himself with the British public, but a thrilling new book wonders if he didn’t also do it to re-shape reality itself – in his favor.

In Paperback: The Malice of Fortune

June 22, 2013
the malice of fortune

Two of the most famous names of the Italian Renaissance – Machiavelli and Leonardo Da Vinci – team up to untangle a series of horrific murders!

Book Review: Lexicon

June 20, 2013

Mere words have the power to kill, literally, in Max Barry’s new thriller. Who welds them? And how worthy are Barry’s own words?

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Chopin, Dutilleux

June 19, 2013

Chopin and Dutilleux: two composers, separated by a century and more, are joined by a city and its culture. Norman Lebrecht reviews a new album of their preludes.

Interview: Rosecrans Baldwin

June 18, 2013
Baldwin, Rosecrans (c) Susie Post-Rust

Author Rosecrans Baldwin talks about writing, and Paris – and writing about Paris

Book Review: Horace and Me

June 17, 2013

A columnist for the Financial Times looks at what the Roman poet Horace has meant to him over the years

Book Review: Narwhals

June 16, 2013

There’s much more to the narwhal than its legendary corkscrew horn; a new book delves into their fascinating natural history – and the looming threat they face from global warming.

We Need New Names

June 13, 2013
We Need New Names

The author of We Need New Names has lived a fascinating life. How well does that translate into a novel? And is it a novel at all?

Guest Movie Review: The Internship

June 13, 2013
5I feel like I’m being sold something

It’s a movie about an internship at Google: 2.3 billion Google users are commanded to like it.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Conrad Tao

June 12, 2013

One of EMI Classics’ final albums, by 19-year-old Conrad Tao, is an instant collectible. But how is the music?

Book Review: The Ides of April

June 11, 2013
the ides of april

Fans of Lindsey Davis’ long-running mystery series starring ancient Roman P. I. Falco now get the first volume in a new series featuring his intrepid daughter following in his footsteps

Book Review: The Silence of Animals

June 10, 2013
the silence of animals

The popular philosopher returns to the ideas that made him famous: that man is an animal, that optimism is misguided, and that the very idea of progress is just a re-heated left-over from the zeals of Christianity.

Classics Reissued: On Exile

June 9, 2013

The signature work by one of the prickly fathers of the Italian Renaissance humanism gets its inaugural print edition in the latest offering from Harvard’s magnificent I Tatti Renaissance Library

Book Review: Through the Perilous Fight

June 8, 2013
throgh the perilous fight

In a stirring new account of the burning of the White House and the Battle of Baltimore during the War of 1812, the individual men and women of the conflict step into the spotlight in all their very human contradictions

Esther Williams

June 7, 2013
esther williams

In Memoriam

Guest Movie Review: Now You See Me

June 6, 2013

A band of stage magicians skilled at all kinds of illusions are suspected of pulling off an all-too-real bank heist in Louis Leterrier’s new movie

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Fairy Tales

June 5, 2013

A batch of bedtime stories, wickedly recited by top actors, interspersed with music derived from the selfsame fairy tales. Why had no one thought of this before?

In Paperback: Catching Fire

June 3, 2013

The second volume in Suzanne Collins’ phenomenally popular series is at long last available in paperback

Book Review: Alexander the Great

June 3, 2013
oxford arrian

The translator of Oxford’s superb new edition of Arrian’s book on Alexander the Great maintains that it should be appreciated at least as much for its literary merit as for its historical value – which would have pleased Arrian immensely, and which may in fact be true.

Book Review: Ancient Israel

June 2, 2013

The violent, heroic Wild West of the Bible is given a magnificent new translation and commentary

Classics Reissued: World War Z!

June 1, 2013
world war z movie

In advance of the movie, Max Brooks’ epic zombie novel (now with the customary ugly movie cover) is given a big reprint run in search of even more fans …

Guest Movie Review: Fast & Furious 6

May 30, 2013
6Gibson holding out for a bigger part

The sixth installment (God help us all) of the brainless car-porn series roars into theaters

Book Review: Scatter, Adapt, and Remember

May 28, 2013
scatter, adapt, and remember

One of our most enjoyable science-writers turns in a reasonably hopeful prognosis for mankind’s future

Book Review: The Guns at Last Light

May 24, 2013
guns at last light

A historian’s great trilogy about U.S. forces at war on WWII’s Western front at last comes to its finish

Book Review: Sacred Games

May 22, 2013
sacred games

As if the tensions between Athens and Sparta at the 80th Olympiad weren’t bad enough, now there’s a dead Spartan – and the chief suspect is Athenian. Young everyman investigator Nico is on the case.

Guest Movie Review: Star Trek Into Darkness

May 21, 2013

Benedict Cumberbatch stars as the villain in the latest installment of J.J. Abrams’ re-invention of “Star Trek”

Book Review: Edmund Burke, the First Conservative

May 18, 2013
edmund burke jesse norman

The so-called ‘father of conservatism’ gets an aphoristic new biography from a very interested party.

Book Review: All the Glittering Prizes

May 16, 2013
all the great prizes

The great diplomat and statesman John Hay is the subject of a riveting new biography

Book Review: Pliny and the Artistic Culture of the Italian Renaissance

May 14, 2013
pliny and the artistic culture

A scrupulously intelligent and lavishly illustrated new book examines the enormous impact one ancient text had on the whole of the Italian Renaissance

Book Review: The 5th Wave

May 11, 2013
the 5th wave

Is Rick Yancey’s latest teen-targeted sci-fi thriller mere filler for fans waiting on the next “Hunger Games” volume, or is there some meat on its bones?

Book Review: The Plantagenets

May 10, 2013
the plantagenets hc

Using castles and cunning, swords and statesmanship, guile and guts, they ruled England (and big chunks of France) for over two centuries – they were the Plantagenets, and they’re the subject of a boisterous new history

Norman Lebrecht’s CD of the Week – Shostakovich’s 7th Symphony

May 8, 2013

The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic brings forth a dazzling recording of Shostakovich’s “Leningrad Symphony”

Book Review: Global Crisis

May 5, 2013
global crisis

The 17th century found itself caught between widespread social upheaval and natural catastrophes unprecedented in human history – an absorbing new history looks at the entire world four centuries ago … and of course glances at our own

Book Review: Europe

May 4, 2013

That long-standing hotbed of world history, Europe, gets a big new dissection by one of our most engaging historians

Book Review: Tocqueville – The Aristocratic Sources of Liberty

May 3, 2013

A brilliant French study of Tocqueville’s “Democracy in America” at last has an English translation

Book Review: Alexander Wilson, the Scot Who Founded American Ornithology

May 2, 2013

He was a young immigrant from Scotland who was inspired by one great man and inspired another, but in between, Alexander Wilson did the pioneering work of creating the American discipline of bird-study. A wonderful new book re-examines his legacy

Norman Lebrecht’s CD of the Week – Valentin Silvestrov

May 1, 2013

Ukrainian composer Valentin Silvestrov’s enigmatic and disturbing ‘Naive Music’ gets a new recording from pianist Elisaveta Blumina

Book Review: Into the Desert

April 29, 2013
Book Review: Into the Desert

It has become conventional wisdom to say that the first Gulf War was one of necessity, while the second was one of choice–but a collection of reflections challenges that maxim

Book Review: A California Childhood

April 28, 2013
franco 1

The Hollywood actor and star of “Howl” produces a heavily-illustrated book of snippets and short stories, for reasons that are either unclear or all too clear, depending on whose Twitter you follow

Book Review: The Girls of Atomic City

April 26, 2013
girls of atomic city

At the heigh of the Second World War, they traveled to a custom-made town in the middle of nowhere and worked jobs they didn’t understand and were forbidden to question – and a year later, the U.S. had a working atom bomb. They were the girls of Atomic City, and their story finally gets told.

Now in Paperback: The World of the Salt Marsh

April 25, 2013
the world of the salt marsh

The southeastern coast of the United States is dotted all over with salt marshes, those magical places forever hovering between land and sea. A captivating new book – now in paperback – sings their praises and recounts their perils.

Norman Lebrecht’s CD of the Week – The Edge of Light

April 24, 2013

Norman Lebrecht reviews a remarkable recording of little-known piano music by Olivier Messiaen and Kaija Saariaho

Book Review: Wolfhound Century

April 23, 2013
wolfhound century

A killer stalks a dark-fantasy alternate version of the Soviet Union in Peter Higgins’ fantastic debut novel

E. L. Konigsburg

April 22, 2013
e. l. konigsburg

Rest in Peace

Book Review: July 1914

April 21, 2013
july 1914-1

A gripping new book examines just what happened in the crucial interval between the assassination of Franz Ferdinand and the outbreak of general hostilities – and reaches some unusual conclusions.

Book Review: Hour of the Red God

April 20, 2013
hour of the red god

Hour of the Red God: A Detective Mollel Novel
By Richard Compton
Sarah Crichton Books/Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2013
Journalist Richard Crompton’s dazzlingly good debut mystery novel Hour of the Red God is set in 2007 against the …

Norman Lebrecht’s CD of the Week – Lionel Bringuier & Nelson Freire

April 19, 2013

In collaboration with Brazilian soloist Nelson Freire, Wunderkind Lionel Bringuier conducts the 2010 BBC Proms concert in a stirring new DVD release

Comics: The Garcia-Lopez Superman

April 18, 2013

One of the Man of Steel’s legendary illustrators from the 1970s and ’80s gets his work reprinted in a handsome hardcover volume

Book Review: Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles

April 17, 2013
Book Review: Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles

Ron Currie Jr. is not only the author of the new novel Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles, he is also its protagonist.

Book Review: The Undivided Past

April 14, 2013
the undivided past

One of our greatest living historians argues that far more unites humanity than divides it – but is anybody listening?

Now in Paperback: Darwin’s Ghosts

April 13, 2013
darwin’s ghosts

‘Darwin’ and ‘evolution’ are permanently linked in our minds, but like all other scientific thinkers, the great man stood on the shoulders of the giants who went before him, as a fascinating new history reminds us.