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Articles in OL Weekly

Book Review: The Black Hour

July 29, 2014
the black hour cover

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 …

Book Review: The Quick

July 27, 2014
the quick cover

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

Book Review: Taken at the Flood

July 27, 2014
taken at the flood cover

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

Book Review: Tudor Adventurers

July 27, 2014
tudor adventurers cover

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

Book Review: The Spanish Armada

July 27, 2014
Book Review: The Spanish Armada

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

Book Review: The Cougar

July 27, 2014
The Cougar

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

Book Review: Wayfaring Stranger

July 25, 2014
wayfaring stranger cover

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

Book Review: Watching Them Be

July 22, 2014
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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

Book Review: The Emperor Far Away

July 22, 2014
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A veteran reporter journeys deep into the heart of modern China and brings back predictably exotic stories

Thomas Berger

July 21, 2014
Thomas Berger

Thomas Berger

Book Review: You’re Not Much Use To Anyone

July 21, 2014
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If a feckless young hipster writes an autobiographical novel about a feckless young hipster, does it make a sound?

Book Review: Michelangelo – A Life in Six Masterpieces

July 20, 2014
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A new biography looks at the long life of one of mankind’s greatest artists through six of his greatest works

Book Review: Tower Lord

July 20, 2014
tower lord cover

Anthony Ryan follows up his much-praised debut “Blood Song” with a much more ambitious sequel

Book Review: Travels with Casey

July 20, 2014
travels with casey cover

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

Book Review: A Possibility of Violence

July 20, 2014
a possibility of violence cover

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.

Book Review: The Year’s Best Science Fiction, 31st Collection

July 20, 2014
year’s best science fiction cover

The legendary science fiction anthology series by Gardner Dozois reaches its thirty-first incarnation, with 700 pages of standout stories

Book Review: The Weight of a Human Heart

July 19, 2014
weight of a human heart

A debut short story collection spans the world for its settings and marks the appearance of a notable talent

Book Review: Sisters of Treason

July 19, 2014
sisters of treason cover

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.

Book Review: Alias Hook

July 17, 2014
alias cook cover

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

Elaine Stritch

July 17, 2014
elaine stritch

Rest in Peace

Book Review: California

July 14, 2014

After a handily vague apocalypse, a forlorn hipster couple bickers in the woods in Edan Lepucki’s much-hyped debut novel

Book Review: The Great War for Peace

July 14, 2014
the great war for peace cover

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

Book Review: Landline

July 13, 2014
Book Review: Landline

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?

Book Review: War of Attrition

July 12, 2014
war of attrition cover

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

Book Review: A Mad Catastrophe

July 11, 2014
mad catastrophe cover

A gripping account of the final days of the inept, tottering Austro-Hungarian empire – and the military apocalypse it helped to usher in

Classics Reissued: Richard III

July 7, 2014
richard iii cover

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

Book Review: Season to Taste

July 6, 2014
season to taste cover

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

Book Review: On the World and Religious Life

July 5, 2014
i tatti salutati

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.

Book Review: The Visitors

July 5, 2014
the visitors cover

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 …

Book Review: Facts and Inventions

July 4, 2014
facts and inventions

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

Book Review: The Unknown Lloyd George

July 3, 2014
the unknown lloyd george cover

One of the greatest British Prime Ministers of them all gets an authoritative new biography

Book Review: Price of Fame

June 30, 2014
price of fame cover

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

In Paperback: How’s the Pain?

June 29, 2014
how’s the pain cover

A new translation of a bleak and edgy work by one of France’s best-regarded crime novelists

Book Review: A Literary Education and Other Essays

June 29, 2014
literary education cover

A generous new collection of essays by the legendary Joseph Epstein

Book Review: Queen Anne – Patroness of Arts

June 27, 2014
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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

Book Review: The Land of the Elephant Kings

June 26, 2014
land kings cover

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

Movie Review: Jersey Boys

June 25, 2014
jersey boys still2

Director Clint Eastwood brings the beloved Broadway musical to the big screen

Comics: The Legacy of Thanos

June 25, 2014
avengers cover

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

Book Review: Down the Shore

June 24, 2014
stan parish

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

Book Review: The Nile

June 23, 2014
the nile cover

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

Book Review: Independence

June 21, 2014
independence cover

The complicated history of the American Revolution gets its best examination in a generation in Thomas Slaughter’s new book

Book Review: Stephen Crane – A Life of Fire

June 20, 2014
stephen crane cover

The young author of “The Red Badge of Courage” is the subject of a lively and very readable new biography

Book Review: The Explorers

June 19, 2014
the explorers cover

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

Book Review: The Battle of Lepanto

June 18, 2014
the battle of lepanto

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

Book Review: No Country

June 17, 2014
no country cover

Two friends flee famine-parched Ireland for opposite ends of the world in this big new historical novel

Book Review: The Owl Who Liked Sitting on Caesar

June 16, 2014

A man adopts a smart, fussy owl – and the relationship completely changes his life

Book Review: The Novel – A Biography

June 14, 2014
the novel cover

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

Book Review: The Bombers and the Bombed

June 13, 2014
bombers and the bombed cover

Even in its truncated US edition, Richard Overy’s great new history of aerial bombing during WWII has much to offer its readers

Book Review: The Literary Churchill

June 10, 2014
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The man we think of as the quintessential politician was first and foremost a working author, as an amazing new assessment makes clear

Book Review: My Lady Viper

June 9, 2014
my lady viper cover

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

Book Review: The Poisoner

June 7, 2014
the poisoner cover

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

Book Review: Pagan Britain

June 4, 2014
pagan britain cover

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

Book Review: Tarzan and the City of Gold

June 1, 2014
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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

Book Review: A World Without Jews

May 29, 2014
a world without jews cover

A stunning portrait of a people driven by fear and then consumed by hate

Book Review: Why the Germans? Why the Jews?

May 29, 2014
why the germans why the jews cover

A modern classic – now in an English-language translation – examines the roots of prewar German anti-Semitism

Book Review: A Replacement Life

May 27, 2014
a replacement life cover

Remembering stories about the Holocaust shades into inventing stories about the Holocaust in Boris Fishman’s fantastic debut

Book Review: The Possibilities

May 27, 2014
nat wolff

A mother in Colorado, grieving for her young son, confronts the fact that he might have been leading a life she never imagined

Book Review: Invisible Ellen

May 27, 2014
shari shattuck 2

A reclusive young woman meets a high-spirited blind girl whose enthusiasm for life opens a new world

In Paperback: Dark Omens

May 26, 2014
dark omens cover

Dauntless mosaic-layer Libertus returns for another side-job of crime-solving in Rosemary Rowe’s latest gripping murder mystery set in Roman Britain

Book Review: The Battle for Justice in Palestine

May 23, 2014
Layout 1

A controversial author’s latest and most devastating indictment of Israel’s policies toward its Palestinian citizens and neighbors

Book Review: Bumble Bees of North America

May 21, 2014
bobmus vosnesenski

A lavishly-illustrated guide book to the bumble bees of North America, in all their busy glory

Book Review: The Steady Running of the Hour

May 21, 2014
the steady running of the hour cover

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

Book Review: The Marathon Conspiracy

May 19, 2014
the marathon conspiracy cover

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

Book Review: Arctic Summer

May 17, 2014
arctic summer cover

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”

Book Review: Young God

May 17, 2014
young god cover

In this spare and violent debut, a 13-year-old girl from Appalachia enters a lawless life

Book Review: The Norman Conquest

May 13, 2014
the norman conquest cover

That same old grand story – William of Normandy’s daring capture of England in 1066 – gets a spiffy new history

Book Review: Philology

May 11, 2014
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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

The 68th Annual Edgar Awards

May 5, 2014

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).

Book Review: Aunt Dimity and the Wishing Well

May 5, 2014
Book Review: Aunt Dimity and the Wishing Well

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

Book Review: Athens

May 4, 2014
athens cover

A slim and jam-packed new history of the city of Athens

Book Review: The Homing Instinct

May 3, 2014
the homing instinct  cover

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.

Book Review: The Chance

May 2, 2014
the chance cover

The scenic seacoast town of Thunder Point plays host to more than its fair share of romantic drama in Robyn Carr’s popular series

Book Review: Midnight Pursuits

May 2, 2014

An elite mercenary and an elite thief cross paths – with wonderfully predictable results – in Elle Kennedy’s latest “Killer Instincts” novel

Book Review: Risky Game

May 2, 2014
risky game

A muscular NFL demigod is stalked by a spunky blogger in Tracy Solheim’s latest “Out of Bounds” novel

Book Review: Hope Ignites

May 2, 2014
hope ignites

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

Book Review: Willing Sacrifice

May 2, 2014
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A battle-hardened warrior must fight for the very memory of the woman he loves in Shannon Butcher’s latest ‘Sentinel Wars’ novel

Book Review: The Sweetheart Rules

May 2, 2014

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”

Book Review: The Transformation of the World

May 1, 2014
the transformation of the world cover

A sprawling new history of the world during the ‘long’ 19th century

Book Review: From Pompeii

April 30, 2014
from pompeii cover

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

Book Review: The Fights on the Little Horn

April 30, 2014
fights on the little horn cover

The darkly iconic Last Stand of George Armstrong Custer receives an exuberantly detailed new account

Book Review: Destroying Angel

April 28, 2014
destroyer angel cover

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

Book Review: Hummingbirds

April 23, 2014
male thorntail

The world’s smallest and busiest birds are the subject of a pretty new book

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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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.

JFK in the Senate

October 5, 2013
jfk in the senate

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?

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