Articles in OL Weekly
A splendidly brainy new intellectual biography gives us the mind-life of the great orator, writer, and parliamentarian Edmund Burke
Jane Austen’s posthumous send-up of Gothic novels (and their breathless readers) gets a lavish annotated edition
Through the eyes of an assistant, a new novel by an American master shows us the life and torturous loves of the great Renaissance artist Donatello
The plight of young girls in slavery-blighted Mexico is the crux of a harrowing novel
The beautiful Galapagos islands – home to finches, tortoises, and active magma – are the subject of a delightful new study
The first and most famous serial killer of the modern era killed five women in 1888 London – but did Jack the Ripper’s crimes start there? And did they end there? The two greatest “Ripperologists” make the case for a killer’s forgotten victims
That sleek and elegant diving-bird, the double-crested cormorant, faces deep-seated prejudices – and disastrous legal measures – in North America, its ancestral home
A fantastic British boarding-school novel from another age gets a pretty reprint
Cultured, erudite, and passionate, Louisa Catherine Adams had a long and fascinating life as wife to John Quincy Adams on the road to the presidency, and that life at long last has a superb biography
Robert Graves lived to be 90.
Deep in the Brazilian wilderness, Theodore Roosevelt and his son encounter a mysterious beast who kills without leaving any tracks
A bookseller’s daughter, a mad alchemist Medici prince, and a heroic Cornishman move the plot of Elizabeth Loupas’s hugely enjoyable new historical novel
Idealistic young Mary Shelton finds love at the Tudor Court – but it’s not the love her Queen has chosen for her
A morose misanthrope police superintendent investigates a killing in which the murderer traveled half-way around the world in order to murder a total stranger
A key element of science fiction DNA is the whole concept of time travel, and a gigantic new anthology assembles all the greatest time travel stories ever told
The wife of England’s King George II has been largely forgotten by history, but she was complimented by Swift, Pope, and Voltaire in her own day – and a new book brings her marvelously to life
Will the latest age of man – dubbed the Anthropocene – be the last? A new book looks at the tremendous toll the human race has taken on its home planet
On a laid-back little Greek island, a sacred icon is forged, a local painter is dead … and a fat man is on the case
A hugely enjoyable new novel tells the familiar story of Dr. Jekyll from Mr. Hyde’s point of view – and will have its readers questioning who the real monster really is
When two London friends find a doorway leading to a magical realm, they think they’re in luck – but Will Elliott’s raucous new novel has some nasty surprises in store for them
When a tech-savvy young man wakes up fourteen thousand years after entering suspended animation, he finds the galaxy radically altered – and his brother firmly in charge
Ancient magic talismans are almost always more trouble than they’re worth, but that doesn’t deter the rag-tag group of anti-heroes in Mark Smylie’s energetically readable debut novel
The larger-than-life story of captivity and struggles of King Richard the Lionheart
A dead street-boy haunts the latest adventure of Commissario Ricciardi in this series set in 1930s Naples
An affluent suburban family breaks apart and re-forms in this remarkably assured debut novel
The confession of a man found wandering naked in Central Park grows more and more problematic as it unfolds
A precocious young girl and her family travel far and wide from her beloved home of Cambridge, Massachusetts
Brandon Sanderson’s epic fantasy series set on a storm-raked world continues
A twelve-year-old boy gains the assistance of a weathered ex-ranger in this tale of a rapidly-vanishing Old West
A dogged police inspector investigates two gruesome murders at the heart of Ghana’s booming new oil economy
Russia and the West, talking past each other, have blundered into conflict over Ukraine. Some commentators on the American left aren’t behaving much differently.
If the idea of a big collection of writings about socio-linguistics by the author of “The Name of the Rose” strikes you as a winning way to spend a weekend, Harvard University Press has some good news for you.
A murder at the bottom of an alien ocean looks likely to spark an interstellar war
An exuberant collection of essays and reviews by trailblazing natural historian Tim Flannery
14th century court poet John Gower is brought in by his friend Geoffrey Chaucer to solve the mystery of a book whose very existence threatens the realm
A seemingly random murder leads our hero Sebastian St. Cyr into the dark and dangerous world of international espionage in C. S. Harris’s latest novel
In 1537, teenager Cosimo dei Medici became the first citizen of Florence, and in the following decades, he set about fashioning a ‘sacral’ rulership for himself – a complicated process at the heart of this fascinating new study
A quick-witted and bilingual dwarf is planted in the household of England’s foreign queen in order to spy on her – but he comes to esteem her, outcast to outcast
An exceptional beauty entices King Charles II and ascends to the heights of the Merry Monarch’s court
In an amazing science fiction debut, a New Yorker awakens in a strange new world
CIA super-agent John Wells needs to get back in the field and feel the old adrenaline pumping again – but will his latest adventure (featuring a dastardly nuclear plot and a shadowy female operative with a Biblical code-name) be more than he bargained for?
A key figure in the founding of the modern Middle East finally gets his definitive English-language biography
The Scarlet Letter? Moby-Dick? Gone with the Wind? Gravity’s Rainbow? Just what IS the “Great American Novel” anyway?
Jonathan Rottenberg’s new book contends that the modern world’s epidemic of depression is made all the worse by society’s tendency to stigmatize the victims themselves
Long-time novelist Penelope Lively turns 80 – and turns to memoir-writing
We mourn the death of the great Canadian short story writer Mavis Gallant and are re-running Karen Vanuska’s moving appreciation from 2009 in tribute.
In Alexandria as a young man, Gordianus the Finder gets caught up in an elaborate scheme to steal the corpse of Alexander the Great!
An unassuming botanist gets separated from his exploration team and finds himself stranded alone on Mars – and his survival rests entirely in his own hands.
The vivid story of the months when the long, slogging stalemate of the First World War exploded into violence
John Steinbeck’s bestselling and universally-lauded novel gets a passionate and persuasive reading by a renowned Steinbeck scholar
The lovers in Elizabeth Michels’ new novel get off to a rapturous, then a rocky start – and when next they meet, a year later, the real games begin
A strong-willed countess and a dynamic sailor become Shakespearean-style star-crossed lovers in Christy English’s latest novel
The daughter of a famous novelist has her own life take on a decidedly fairy-tale twist in Tessa Dare’s new novel
A strong woman and a weak man must make a perilous journey from the Western frontier to the East Coast in Glendon Swarthout’s newly-reissued classic novel
Armies clash and the technological stakes are raised in the latest installment in David Weber’s rip-roaring “Safehold” series
A young woman is murdered on the eve of Italy’s tumultuous win in the 1982 World Cup – and then 24 years later, on the eve of another World Cup victory, more bodies start turning up, and it’s up to one haunted, damaged cop to piece the mystery together (hint: it’s not hooligans)
The life of one remarkable woman – told against the backdrop of American colonies boiling toward revolution – forms the narrative of Nancy Turner’s sumptuously old-fashioned new historical novel
A new dual-biography of James Madison and his wife Dolley sees them through some of fledgling America’s most trying times
An extraordinary 40 CD box-set compiles the uncollected glories of the great classical label Westminster Records
The image of Abraham Lincoln – the saintly, martyred Great Emancipator – is a permanent fixture of human culture … but a fascinating new book takes a detailed look at the men who carefully crafted that image
Sherlock Holmes’s legendary nemesis Professor Moriarty returns – as super-sleuth hero of a new thriller involving a threat to Queen Victoria’s throne and the nation itself
In chaos-plagued Beirut, a voracious reader lives an oddly fulfilling secret life
Kafka’s immortal story about a man who wakes up one day and finds he’s an insect gets a sterling new translation
The engrossing first volume of a very promising new fantasy series
A retired small-town music professor becomes an unlikely fugitive from the law in Richard Powers’ latest novel
When an ordinary man pulls an arrow from the wing of a crane, extraordinary things begin to happen in the new novel by Patrick Ness
Don’t be fooled by the “Rebecca” echoes – there’s a lot more to Rachel Pastan’s “Alena” than mere Manderley-redux
One of the brightest stars in the sci-fi/fantasy night sky writes about the interesting stuff she’s been re-reading
Now in paperback, the latest adventure of William Shakespeare’s crime-sleuthing, spy-hunting brother John!
If you’re expecting Heloise to make an appearance in this captivating work of scholarship, you’ll be disappointed – but not for long, since scholar John Marendbon manages quite well without her
A fiery German princess in disguise is hiding in London from the threat of an assassin – but her subterfuge throws her right into the arms of the most handsome man she’s ever seen (who has dark secrets of his own, naturally, this being a romance novel and all!)
A new collection of old short stories from the writer of “The Flame Alphabet”
Three of Ian Rankin’s most popular recurring characters come together in his irresistible latest novel
The sprawling, disjointed history of the Habsburg Empire forms the backdrop for Simon Winder’s latest combination of history lesson and personal essay.
A hefty new anthology collects hundreds of years worth of poetry about the wars, pestilences, triumphs, and plagues poets endured and tried to capture in verse
Frederick Delius can be an acquired taste. Now a new recording tries to win listeners over with some of his most intriguing compositions. Norman Lebrecht reviews.
Sixteen years ago, young mercenary Eddie LaCrosse saved a baby girl from an angry bear and found her a good home far from trouble – or so he thought. Sixteen years later, that baby girl is all grown up and at the heart of all the trouble in the world in Alex Bledsoe’s latest nifty sword-and-sorcery novel
From the best-selling author of “Loving Frank” comes the story of Fanny Osbourne, the wife of Robert Louis Stevenson
As if our intrepid American-born doctor Thomas Silkstone didn’t have enough problems on his hand, a great monstrous FOG is engulfing the English countryside!
The philosopher who wrote “A Treatise on Human Nature” was famous in his own lifetime for an immense work of quite a different nature; a new book looks again at “The History of England”
What explains the similarities of animal forms scattered across the wide expanses of the world? A terrific new book makes the case that life persistently wanders.
A cocky young Wall Street analyst makes a discovery that could point to a new and deadly kind of war
For many years he was known as the man who left his skull to the Royal Shakespeare Company for use in the gravediggers’ scene in Hamlet. But a new album showcases André Tchaikovsky’s inimitable music.
An extremely generous collection of letters by the great 20th century tastemaker in books, Malcolm Cowley
The indomitable 17th century midwife Bridget Hodgson returns in another thrilling murder mystery
DC Comics rolls out a lovely anthology of some high points in the long career of the Man of Steel
Touching photos and essays testify to the wonder of old dogs
In a fantasy version of LA where sorcerous captains of industry wage war against the gods, a conflicted young ‘risk manager’ works to prevent a dark plot from poisoning millions of people
A sultry medium in 1920s San Francisco meets an alluring scapegrace laboring under a malicious hex
A princess without a country makes the audacious decision to take a lover, despite anything society might think.
An elite secret black ops team must mobilize to find one of their own in Stephanie Tyler’s latest “Section 8″ novel
Eighty short entries attempt the mission impossible of charting ‘how to be a man’ – and leave our female reviewer kind of wishing they’d just sent chocolates instead.
From Hercules to Theseus to Odysseus to Socrates, the heroes of ancient Greek mythology bring an entire lost world to vivid life. A new book goes to great – even heroic – lengths to decode those heroes
That age-old happy nostrum – the inherent superiority of human beings over all other life in the universe – gets its scientific Sunday best polished and pressed
Feel like starting up a literary magazine? Why the hell not!
One of the biggest success stories among the world’s language gets a genial history
A vivid look at the culture and politics that led to Japan’s ill-fated attack on Pearl Harbor
The controversial historian returns with a new alarm-call about the rise of international antisemitism
A group of extra-dimensional retainers must protect their exiled prince – but he doesn’t know who he is, and they don’t either.
Two professors – with oceanside views – take readers on a hundred-year history of the world’s coolest sport
A prickly-smart new analysis contends that we too easily simplify the great World War I battle of Verdun
One of the 20th Century’s greatest poets finally gets her definitive biography
After fifteen years, the fantastic “Anno Dracula” series continues
A quarter-century after its first appearance, a beloved popular-science classic gets a new reprint
A new volume from the mighty Abbeville Press will warm your cold, withered heart if anything still can!
A legendary editor assembles the leading lights of science fiction for the new century – he hopes.
The album of the week is the unmatched choral music of James MacMillan and Capella Nova
Open Letters mourns the death of enchanting rogue Peter O’Toole.
There’s more than mere misery in the expertly-managed passage of events in Paul Rome’s debut novel
A quick-paced new history of not just of the city of Venice but of the remarkable men and women who strutted across its stage during the long centuries of its life
A life-long love of the Classics is distilled into a new translation of Homer’s Iliad
A life-long writer and editor looks back on his life
A massive new biography serves to remind us that war and politics were always intricately connected in the life of the Duke of Wellington
There’s a certain unforgettable sound that can only come from Hungarian composers; a new recording of György Kurtág’s Splinters suite captures it with bracing clarity
One of the first volumes of a new color reprint series from Marvel Comics features some high-flying adventures by the summer’s superhero star, the mighty Thor!
Fresh from chasing horse-thieves in wild Dakota territories, a rail-tough Theodore Roosevelt returned to New York City to face bandits of quite another sort – the Tammany Hall sort. A lean new history tells the great story.
Five remarkable men came together in 19th century St. Petersburg to challenge each other, compete with each other, inspire each other, and encourage each other – and some quite remarkable music resulted
The Zehetmair Quartet delivers a rich new recording of music by Beethoven, Bruckner, Hartmann and Holliger
The near- infinite abundance of the Internet may seem incredibly alluring, but in his new book David Mikics argues that it’s eating away at our ability to appreciate fully what we read. He offers rules and admonitions, as you might expect
The open frontier of self-publishing attracts a wide variety of pioneers – fiercely individual storytellers who for one reason or another have chosen a different path to realizing their writing dreams. One such pioneer is Jack Merridew, who at age 20 is already the author of two self-published works of fiction – and a successful YouTube creator as well. Open Letters talks with him about the brave new world of promoting your own dreams.
The great Natalie Dessay is back … this time singing movie soundtracks? Norman Lebrecht listens.
It’s an act of aggression in which the victim is the perpetrator, and it’s a crime for which the criminal cannot be punished: it’s suicide, and statistics show we’re in the middle of an epidemic of it. A thoughtful new book lays out the case for sticking around.
American diplomats and Foreign Service workers travel for America, negotiate for America, cheerlead for America, and sometimes die for America – a magnificent new book gives them the sweeping historical account they’ve always deserved.
A new book by Brad Stone on Amazon.com: does it make nice with the online Goliath, or brandish a slingshot?
Lang Lang unites with Sir Simon Rattle and the Berlin Symphony Orchestra unite to perform two of the world’s most show-stopping piano concertos
A big new volume studies Napoleon Bonaparte from the peak of his power to the last days of his final exile
A born warrior striving to become a refined gentleman, or a refined gentleman striving to learn a warrior’s ways? A new book looks at Washington the military commander
They’ve always been among us, those rare individuals we call geniuses – but the distinction’s meaning has subtly altered over the centuries. It’s a big, interesting subject, boiled down by Darrin McMahon into a short, interesting book
Every reader of history has heard of Pickett’s Charge, the so-called high-tide mark of the Confederate cause, but the author of a new book contends that the true pivotal point was another charge altogether, led by a different man – on a different day.
A quirky teenage girl comes home one day to find her father missing, and she quickly learns he’s being held hostage. When she sets herself to save him, Arin Greenwood’s YA novel “Save the Enemy” is off and running – and sometimes tripping over itself
A great conductor writes a great biography about a great composer!
King George VI and Winston Churchill forged a remarkable working relationship during the trying years of World War II – a new book looks at how it happened, and why
Strong-willed Southern governor Cooper Lanier’s husband is running for president, and she’s learning things about him she’d rather not know in Robert Inman’s warm and involving new novel
First in war, first in peace, first in line for the powers of a god
The great critic and memoirist Clive James has a volume of new poems doing some very old things
Michael Palmer, 1942-2013
The strangest, most alien creatures on the Earth have three hearts and big, unfathomable brains – and, famously, eight arms. It’s the sprawling family of octopus species, and they get a soup-to-nuts examination in Katherine Harmon Courage’s new book
King Henry VIII’s first wife, Catherine of Aragon, takes center stage in a new novel by Tudor historian Carolly Erickson
Coyotes prowl our golf courses, cougars haunt our bike-trails, and owls skinny-dip in our bird-baths – a new book looks at the wild animals that fill in the spaces of human cities
When the South Pacific opened up for Western exploration, ‘experimental gentlemen’ swarmed there to make discoveries – and to make history
It’s not every writer who can write a book that stays in print continuously for 300 years, but the author of “Gulliver’s Travels” is one of those writers. A lively new biography looks at the great Jonathan Swift
England’s ‘bluff king Hal’ is put under the microscope in a scathing new biography
Our reigning master of vigorous popular history takes on the most vigorous, popular English dynasty of them all
The much-vexed life of the last Stuart monarch gets a gripping, electrifyingly good new examination
A certain pristine elegance marks Paul Yoon’s latest book
Deutsche Grammophon brings forth a stunning recital at Wigmore Hall by Portuguese musicians Antonio Meneses & Maria Joao Pires. Norman Lebrecht reviews.
The ironic Grindhouse killing machine is back in Robert Rodriguez’s new movie
A new life of Jack London – by the world’s foremost authority on the man’s life and work.
Daniel Woodrell’s new novel may be slim, but it burns with the fiercest struggle of them all: the madness for survival
Now at last in an English translation: the heart-breaking, history-making memoir of the world’s greatest Czech writer
A master military historian joins the crowd writing about the outbreak of the First World War
A new collection of personal essays – some funny, some touching, all piercingly intelligent – from one of America’s greatest cultural critics
Congratulations to Alice Munro, winner of the 2013 Nobel Prize in Literature and, in the words of the prize committee, “master of the contemporary short story.” Small in its explicit scope but rich in meaning, …
“‘Pride and Prejudice’ meets ‘Downton Abbey’” is an easy way to pigeon-hole Jo Baker’s new novel – but it’s the cheapest way too, giving almost no hint of just how good a book this is.
Pianist Boris Giltburg’s somber, beautiful new album shows a heartening independent spirit. Norman Lebrecht reviews.
David Abulafia’s big book – now in paperback – tackles a subject pivotal to huge swaths of human history: the Mediterraean, that watery intersection of Europe, Asia, and Africa
The famous novelist presents some essays by a pre-war Viennese intellectual and helps us all to understand those works.
A master historian analyzes the tempestuous relationship between two titans of the newborn United States
The songs to My Fair Lady, sung in German? Just one of the idiosyncrasies of Diana Damrau’s irresistible new vocal album.
The cult favorite HBO western inspires an anthology of essays devoted to the show’s most outrageous feature: its language (foul and otherwise)
The first great era of Marvel Comics’ immortal superhero (and present-day cinematic star), the Might Thor, is given a deluxe hardcover reprint volume
The author of the hit “The World Without Us” returns with a new book in which he ponders whether or not a world WITH us is even possible – and what it would cost.
A riveting new book looks at the catastrophe that befell Germany’s Jewish performers and composers when the Nazis came to power.
In 1832, nineteen-year-old Richard Wagner composed two piano sonatas in an effort to fill the vacuum left by Beethoven’s death. Norman Lebrecht discusses the results.
A symposium of distinguished scholars dissects the wildly ambitious and varied artistic life of the great William Kent
A young man born and raised in the wild of Yosemite Valley is forced into a series of confrontations with an encroaching outside world.
Behold: a near perfect album. German baritone Matthias Goerne soars in a new recording of the music of Hanns Eisler.
A big, riveting new history looks at the unforgettable men and women who filled the history of the most tumultuous three-decade span in American history
What if each one of the original 79 ‘Star Trek’ TV episodes had instead been a full-length movie? A stellar new collection of the posters for those movies boldly goes where no theater-goer has gone before
The hero of David Levithan’s “Every Day” – now out in paperback – lives his life as a spirit inhabiting the lives of others, until something happens that makes him want his own reality
Bald and ruthless interplanetary badass Riddick is back, played by the man who made him a cult sci-fi favorite
The popular teacher and blogger collects her most memorable book reviews from the last dozen years
A magnificent new volume tours Egyptian history – starting a mind-bogglingly long time ago
An exhaustive – and immensely enjoyable – line-by-line examination of Shakespeare’s final play
While Henry VIII was away fighting the French, his kingdom was invaded from the north by James of Scotland. It was defended by thousands of brave soldiers, a handful of ambitious courtiers – and one remarkable woman.
Pretty young Audrey has grown up in the Tudor court thinking she’s the daughter of King Henry VIII’s tailor – but what if her real father is the king himself?
In Michael Shea’s new novel, an insane movie producer seeks vengeance on the wily extras who eluded his grasp – it’s a delightful riff on late-night sci-fi movies … and a reminder of what sharp fun good science fiction can be.
A. C. Crispin
The gap between reality and the words with which people try to capture it lies at the heart of Dan Beachy-Quick’s intelligent, lyrical novel
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.
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.
Mick Herron, author of the celebrated spy novel Dead Lions, opens up about the influence of the godfather of his genre, John le Carré
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
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.
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
Kuniko Kato, percussion virtuoso, uses marimbas, crotales, bells and vibraphones to adapt the work of classical composers
No matter how an imaginative child might shape-shift, a mother’s love follows right along in Nancy Tillman’s enchanting new picture book
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
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.
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
A new paperback explores the mysteries of turtles
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
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.
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
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
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
In June, Britten’s “Peter Grimes” was staged on the beach at the Aldeburgh Festival of Music. The results, Norman Lebrecht writes, were remarkable.
The great – and problematic – 20th century composer gets a broad-minded and intensely sensitive new biography
“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.
The long-rumored psychic powers of the human brain get a high-spirited new examination.
A crucial turning-point battle in the American Revolution is given an extensively detailed and tradition-challenging new history
The great Austrian pianist Artur Schnabel was in his mind a composer first and foremost. Norman Lebrecht reviews a recording of his piano works.
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
“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
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
Hugh Jackman reprises his beloved role as the X-Men’s hairy clawed Canadian killer, Wolverine
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
A popular science writer looks at the evidence for life on other planets
The latest events in the life of immortal, imperturbable Count Saint-Germain find him in Crusades-era Egypt
Rousing naval action and atmospheric period drama share the stage in S. Thomas Russell’s latest novel, by any other name
The old cast from “RED” reunites, along with some new faces – but is this sequel already showing cracks and wrinkles?
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.”
Two teenage misfits – neither vampires nor aliens – form an unlikely alliance that blossoms, naturally, into something more
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
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
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
A short Kafka biography by a renowned historian makes some unconventional interpretations of the 20th century’s most enigmatic writer
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?
In her newest release, Romanian pianist Raluca Stirbat turns out some exceptionally supple recitals of Bartok and Debussy
Endless back-flips alone, Mr. Anderson wryly observes, cannot save a film.
A self-absorbed young Brooklyn writer (what else?) goes from relationship to relationship in search of … what, exactly?
In an entertaining new collection of good old stories, the boundary-line between Sam Spade and Mandrake the Magician is considerably blurred …
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
A spirited new account of the divisive American presidential election race that was held amidst the growing clamor of European war
An inquisitive young woman falls in love with an ungainly, weirdly sophisticated alien creature
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
In his new album “Home Stretch,” Timo Andres adapts–or is the word mauls?–some classic Mozart compositions
The reformed super-villain and his minions return in Illumination Entertainment’s sequel to their surprise hit in “Despicable Me 2″
A monumental deck-clearing two-volume biography of Admiral Horatio Nelson reaches its thundering conclusion
In a magnificent new history, the cataclysmic turning-point battle of the American Civil War is studied in meticulous detail
Richard Beeman’s new book covers some familiar – sacred? – ground
A collection of uncommonly whimsical music highlights a retrospective album of the late composer Elliott Carter. Norman Lebrecht listens, and smiles.
It’s a fairly by-the-numbers summer buddy-cop movie – with one important difference!
A young man slips in and out of seductive dream realities in Alex Jeffers’ fantastic latest novel
The bloodiest day in United States history is the subject of Richard Slotkin’s riveting book, now out in paperback
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
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”
A new album of the chamber music of one of Israel’s foremost composer’s, Paul Ben-Haim. Norman Lebrecht listens.
Pixar’s latest is a prequel: the story of how Mike and Sully from “Monsters, Inc.” first met
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.
Two of the most famous names of the Italian Renaissance – Machiavelli and Leonardo Da Vinci – team up to untangle a series of horrific murders!
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?
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.
Author Rosecrans Baldwin talks about writing, and Paris – and writing about Paris
A columnist for the Financial Times looks at what the Roman poet Horace has meant to him over the years
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.
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?
It’s a movie about an internship at Google: 2.3 billion Google users are commanded to like it.
One of EMI Classics’ final albums, by 19-year-old Conrad Tao, is an instant collectible. But how is the music?
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
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.
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
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
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
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?
The second volume in Suzanne Collins’ phenomenally popular series is at long last available in paperback
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.
The violent, heroic Wild West of the Bible is given a magnificent new translation and commentary
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 …
The sixth installment (God help us all) of the brainless car-porn series roars into theaters
One of our most enjoyable science-writers turns in a reasonably hopeful prognosis for mankind’s future
A historian’s great trilogy about U.S. forces at war on WWII’s Western front at last comes to its finish
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.
Benedict Cumberbatch stars as the villain in the latest installment of J.J. Abrams’ re-invention of “Star Trek”
The so-called ‘father of conservatism’ gets an aphoristic new biography from a very interested party.
The great diplomat and statesman John Hay is the subject of a riveting new biography
A scrupulously intelligent and lavishly illustrated new book examines the enormous impact one ancient text had on the whole of the Italian Renaissance
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?
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
The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic brings forth a dazzling recording of Shostakovich’s “Leningrad Symphony”
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
That long-standing hotbed of world history, Europe, gets a big new dissection by one of our most engaging historians
A brilliant French study of Tocqueville’s “Democracy in America” at last has an English translation
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
Ukrainian composer Valentin Silvestrov’s enigmatic and disturbing ‘Naive Music’ gets a new recording from pianist Elisaveta Blumina
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
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
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.
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 reviews a remarkable recording of little-known piano music by Olivier Messiaen and Kaija Saariaho
A killer stalks a dark-fantasy alternate version of the Soviet Union in Peter Higgins’ fantastic debut novel
Rest in Peace
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.
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 …
In collaboration with Brazilian soloist Nelson Freire, Wunderkind Lionel Bringuier conducts the 2010 BBC Proms concert in a stirring new DVD release
One of the Man of Steel’s legendary illustrators from the 1970s and ’80s gets his work reprinted in a handsome hardcover volume
Ron Currie Jr. is not only the author of the new novel Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles, he is also its protagonist.
One of our greatest living historians argues that far more unites humanity than divides it – but is anybody listening?
‘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.
Open Letters Monthly mourns the death of Jonathan Winters, legendary comedian master of carefully-controlled chaos, and lifelong six-year-old.
An ordinary boy in our real world has a funny name – Clark Kent. Funny, that is, until he starts to develop the exact same superpowers as you-know-who
A family of Neanderthals navigate the dangers of the pre-historic world in DreamWorks’ latest animated feature
Norman Lebrecht reviews a new recording of Kossuth, a rare and distinctive turn by Béla Bartók into mainstream romanticism.