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Articles in OL Weekly

Book Review: Lincoln’s Boys

February 4th, 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 3rd, 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 2nd, 2014


Book Review: An Unnecessary Woman

February 1st, 2014
an unnecessary woman cover

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

In Paperback: The Metamorphosis

January 31st, 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 31st, 2014
the emperor’s blades cover

The engrossing first volume of a very promising new fantasy series

Book Review: Orfeo

January 30th, 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 30th, 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 30th, 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 28th, 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 27th, 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 22nd, 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 22nd, 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 21st, 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 20th, 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 17th, 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 17th, 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 16th, 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 15th, 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 14th, 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 13th, 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 12th, 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 10th, 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 10th, 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 8th, 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 7th, 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 6th, 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 5th, 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 29th, 2013

Touching photos and essays testify to the wonder of old dogs

Book Review: Two Serpents Rise

December 25th, 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 25th, 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 25th, 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 25th, 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 24th, 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 23rd, 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 23rd, 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 21st, 2013
paper dreams cover

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

Book Review: Latin – Story of a World Language

December 21st, 2013

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

Book Review: Japan 1941

December 20th, 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 20th, 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 20th, 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 19th, 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 19th, 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 19th, 2013
holding on upside down

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

Book Review: Johnny Alucard

December 18th, 2013
johnny alucard cover

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

Classics Reissued: Cosmos

December 18th, 2013
cosmos reprint

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

Book Review: The Libertine

December 18th, 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 17th, 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 17th, 2013

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

Peter O’Toole

December 15th, 2013

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

Book Review: We All Sleep in the Same Room

December 13th, 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 12th, 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 10th, 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 8th, 2013
my mistake

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

Book Review: Wellington, The Path to Victory

December 7th, 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 5th, 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 4th, 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 1st, 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 29th, 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 28th, 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 23rd, 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 21st, 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 20th, 2013

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

Book Review: Stay

November 18th, 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 16th, 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 15th, 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 13th, 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 12th, 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 10th, 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 9th, 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 8th, 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 7th, 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 5th, 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 4th, 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 4th, 2013
nick cardy aquaman

Nick Cardy

Book Review: The Governor’s Lady

November 3rd, 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 1st, 2013

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

Book Review: Nefertiti in the Flak Tower

October 31st, 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 31st, 2013
mike palmer

Michael Palmer, 1942-2013

Book Review: Octopus!

October 30th, 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 29th, 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 27th, 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 26th, 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 24th, 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 22nd, 2013

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

Book Review: Tudors

October 21st, 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 18th, 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 17th, 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 16th, 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 15th, 2013

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

Book Review: Jack London, An American Life

October 15th, 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 13th, 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 13th, 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 12th, 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 12th, 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 10th, 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 10th, 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 8th, 2013

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

In Paperback: The Great Sea

October 6th, 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 6th, 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 5th, 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 4th, 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 2nd, 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 1st, 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 28th, 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 28th, 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 27th, 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 25th, 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 22nd, 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 20th, 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 19th, 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 15th, 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 12th, 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 10th, 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 9th, 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 9th, 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 9th, 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 8th, 2013
shakespeare’s prince

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

Book Review: Fatal Rivalry

September 8th, 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 8th, 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 7th, 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 7th, 2013
annie crispin

A. C. Crispin

Book Review: An Impenetrable Screen of Purest Sky

September 6th, 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 5th, 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 4th, 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 3rd, 2013
fred pohl and ariel

Frederik Pohl

Mick Herron on Chasing After Smiley

September 2nd, 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 1st, 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 31st, 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 30th, 2013
shay heaney

Seamus Heaney

Book Review: Armor and Blood

August 30th, 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 29th, 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 29th, 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 23rd, 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 21st, 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 21st, 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 20th, 2013
life in a shell

A new paperback explores the mysteries of turtles

Book Review: Year’s Best Science Fiction

August 19th, 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 18th, 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 17th, 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 15th, 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 11th, 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 7th, 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 7th, 2013

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

Classics Reissued: Thoreau’s Essays

August 6th, 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 4th, 2013

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

Book Review: Long, Obstinate, and Bloody

August 3rd, 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 1st, 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 1st, 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 1st, 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 31st, 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 30th, 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 30th, 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 29th, 2013
signatures of life

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

Book Review: Night Pilgrims

July 28th, 2013

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

Book Review: Insert Title Here

July 27th, 2013
ship of war – russell

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

Guest Movie Review: RED 2

July 26th, 2013

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

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

July 24th, 2013

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

Book Review: Eleanor and Park

July 23rd, 2013
eleanor and park

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

Book Review: Summertime, All the Cats are Bored

July 22nd, 2013

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

Book Review: Kafka – The Years of Insight

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

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

In Paperback: Kafka – The Decisive Years

July 21st, 2013
kafka years of insight

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

Helen Thomas

July 20th, 2013

Helen Thomas

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

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

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

Book Review: Hidden Order

July 19th, 2013
hidden order

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

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Raluca Stirbat

July 17th, 2013

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

Guest Movie Review: Grown Ups 2

July 16th, 2013
6Seriously, the BEST part

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

Book Review: The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.

July 15th, 2013
love affairs nate p

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

Book Review: Weird Detectives

July 15th, 2013
weird detectives

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

Book Review: The Shadow King

July 13th, 2013
shadow king

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

Book Review: 1940

July 13th, 2013

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

Book Review: Sea Change

July 12th, 2013

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

Book Review: Homeward Bound

July 11th, 2013
homeward  bound

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

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Timo Andres

July 10th, 2013

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

Guest Movie Review: Despicable Me 2

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

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

Arthur Rosenthal

July 9th, 2013
artie rosenthal

Arthur Rosenthal

Book Review: Nelson – The Sword of Albion

July 9th, 2013
nelson sword of albion

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

Book Review: Gettysburg – The Last Invasion

July 6th, 2013
gettysburg the last invasion

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

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

July 5th, 2013
our lives

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

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Elliott Carter

July 3rd, 2013

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

Guest Movie Review: The Heat

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

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

Book Review: Deprivation

July 2nd, 2013
Book Review: Deprivation

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

In Paperback: The Long Road to Antietam

June 30th, 2013
long road to antietam

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

In Paperback: 2312

June 30th, 2013

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

Classics Reissued: The Authority

June 27th, 2013
Classics Reissued: The Authority

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

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

June 26th, 2013
CHAN 10769

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

Guest Movie Review: Monsters University

June 25th, 2013

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

Book Review: Disraeli – The Romance of Politics

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

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

In Paperback: The Malice of Fortune

June 22nd, 2013
the malice of fortune

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

Book Review: Lexicon

June 20th, 2013

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

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

June 19th, 2013

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

Interview: Rosecrans Baldwin

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

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

Book Review: Horace and Me

June 17th, 2013

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

Book Review: Narwhals

June 16th, 2013

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

Guest Movie Review: The Internship

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

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

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Conrad Tao

June 12th, 2013

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

Book Review: The Ides of April

June 11th, 2013
the ides of april

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

Book Review: The Silence of Animals

June 10th, 2013
the silence of animals

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

Classics Reissued: On Exile

June 9th, 2013

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

Book Review: Through the Perilous Fight

June 8th, 2013
throgh the perilous fight

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

Esther Williams

June 7th, 2013
esther williams

In Memoriam

Guest Movie Review: Now You See Me

June 6th, 2013

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

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Fairy Tales

June 5th, 2013

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

In Paperback: Catching Fire

June 3rd, 2013

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

Book Review: Alexander the Great

June 3rd, 2013
oxford arrian

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

Book Review: Ancient Israel

June 2nd, 2013

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

Classics Reissued: World War Z!

June 1st, 2013
world war z movie

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

Guest Movie Review: Fast & Furious 6

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

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

Book Review: Scatter, Adapt, and Remember

May 28th, 2013
scatter, adapt, and remember

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

Book Review: The Guns at Last Light

May 24th, 2013
guns at last light

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

Book Review: Sacred Games

May 22nd, 2013
sacred games

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

Guest Movie Review: Star Trek Into Darkness

May 21st, 2013

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

Book Review: Edmund Burke, the First Conservative

May 18th, 2013
edmund burke jesse norman

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

Book Review: All the Glittering Prizes

May 16th, 2013
all the great prizes

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

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

May 14th, 2013
pliny and the artistic culture

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

Book Review: The 5th Wave

May 11th, 2013
the 5th wave

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

Book Review: The Plantagenets

May 10th, 2013
the plantagenets hc

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

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

May 8th, 2013

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

Book Review: Global Crisis

May 5th, 2013
global crisis

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

Book Review: Europe

May 4th, 2013

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

Book Review: Tocqueville – The Aristocratic Sources of Liberty

May 3rd, 2013

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

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

May 2nd, 2013

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

Norman Lebrecht’s CD of the Week – Valentin Silvestrov

May 1st, 2013

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

Book Review: Into the Desert

April 29th, 2013
Book Review: Into the Desert

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

Book Review: A California Childhood

April 28th, 2013
franco 1

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

Book Review: The Girls of Atomic City

April 26th, 2013
girls of atomic city

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

Now in Paperback: The World of the Salt Marsh

April 25th, 2013
the world of the salt marsh

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

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

April 24th, 2013

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

Book Review: Wolfhound Century

April 23rd, 2013
wolfhound century

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

E. L. Konigsburg

April 22nd, 2013
e. l. konigsburg

Rest in Peace

Book Review: July 1914

April 21st, 2013
july 1914-1

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

Book Review: Hour of the Red God

April 20th, 2013
hour of the red god

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

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

April 19th, 2013

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

Comics: The Garcia-Lopez Superman

April 18th, 2013

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

Book Review: Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles

April 17th, 2013
Book Review: Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles

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

Book Review: The Undivided Past

April 14th, 2013
the undivided past

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

Now in Paperback: Darwin’s Ghosts

April 13th, 2013
darwin’s ghosts

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

Jonathan Winters

April 12th, 2013


Open Letters Monthly mourns the death of Jonathan Winters, legendary comedian master of carefully-controlled chaos, and lifelong six-year-old.

Comics: Superman – Secret Identity

April 12th, 2013

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

Guest Movie Review: The Croods

April 11th, 2013

A family of Neanderthals navigate the dangers of the pre-historic world in DreamWorks’ latest animated feature

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Béla Bartók: Kossuth

April 10th, 2013

Norman Lebrecht reviews a new recording of Kossuth, a rare and distinctive turn by Béla Bartók into mainstream romanticism.

Book Review: The Borgias

April 8th, 2013
the borgias

They’re history’s most villainous family, adept at blackmail, poison, murder, and sacrilege – they even have their own TV series! But is it possible there’s more bad press than bad people to the Borgia family? A fascinating new book takes the case back to the basics

Now in Paperback: Heinrich Himmler

April 8th, 2013

The authoritative new biography – now in an enormous paperback – of the architect of Nazi Germany’s “Final Solution”

Classics Reissued: Marcel Proust – A Life

April 8th, 2013
proust – carter

A splendid reissue of the definitive Marcel Proust biography attempts to show readers the jester, the critic, and the energetic editor in addition to the garrulous fop

Book Review: Bolivar

April 7th, 2013
bolivar – arana

The “George Washington of South America” was far more complex and interesting than his familiar tag-line suggests – as a big, fantastic new biography makes abundantly clear

Book Review: Farside

April 5th, 2013

Science fiction grand master Ben Bova sets his latest novel on the far side of the moon

Book Review: Lover at Last

April 5th, 2013

In her latest bestseller, J. R. Ward’s two most loved (and lusted-after) bad-boy vampires finally get their turn in the spotlight

Roger Ebert

April 4th, 2013

Open Letters Monthly mourns the death of indefatigable everyman movie critic Roger Ebert, who saw everything, mainstreamed a profession, and championed more than a few losing battles – including, ultimately, his own. Rest in peace.

Book Review: Christian Beginnings

April 4th, 2013
christian beginnings

A new book by a legendary scholar charts the journey of early Christianity from a charismatic cult to the official religion of an empire

Ruth Prawer Jhabvala

April 3rd, 2013

Open Letters Monthly mourns the death of Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, whose exquisite literary adaptations helped give new kinds of immortality to E.M. Forster and Henry James, and whose own fiction, delicate and sometimes dauntingly enigmatic, will …

Book Review: Roses Have Thorns

April 3rd, 2013
Book Review: Roses Have Thorns

A young Swedish girl travels to England and becomes a lady-in-waiting to Queen Elizabeth I herself

Book Review: The Creation of Anne Boleyn

April 2nd, 2013
Book Review: The Creation of Anne Boleyn

She’s an icon, a cautionary tale, a baleful notoriety – she’s Anne Boleyn, who bewitched a king and drove him to remake a world, all for the sake of a dream she could never give him. A fascinating new book looks at the way all the ways history has made and re-made Henry VIII’s most infamous queen

Book Review: The Chalice

April 2nd, 2013
Book Review: The Chalice

An intelligent, sensitive Dominican novice finds herself at the heart of passionate conspiracies in the England of Henry VIII

Book Review: Edwardian Opulence

March 31st, 2013
the two crowns – frank dicksee

The richest denizens of the Edwardian Era swan around in their finest stuff, immortalized by the likes of Sargent and Boldini, and a sumptuous new book from Yale University Press records it all

Book Review: The Tale of Raw Head & Bloody Bones

March 30th, 2013
tale of raw head

Jack Wolf’s risk-taking debut explores the boundaries of insanity and rationality

Now in Paperback: Proof of Heaven

March 28th, 2013
proof of heaven

A neurosurgeon’s reflections on his time in a coma convince him that it held the secret to the universe.

Book Review: Abide with Me

March 27th, 2013

In a novel that’s not as easy as it looks, a soldier comes home to his small Vermont town from Afghanistan – and to the young woman he left behind there.

Classics Reissued: Shadows and Strongholds

March 24th, 2013
Shadows and Strongholds

In a welcome reprint, a brave but untried young 12th century knight must learn how to fight – and take a bride

Classics Reissued: Dune

March 23rd, 2013
Classics Reissued: Dune

The greatest sci-fi novel of all time is inaugurated into the Barnes & Noble Leatherbound Classics library

Back in Paperback: The Unfinished Odyssey of Robert Kennedy

March 22nd, 2013
halberstam rfk

David Halberstam’s 1968 profile of candidate Robert Kennedy gets a new reprint for a new generation

Book Review: Honor

March 20th, 2013
Book Review: Honor

The barbaric custom of ‘honor killing’ is the hinge on which best-selling author Elif Shafak’s complex new novel turns

Book Review: The Sunshine When She’s Gone

March 20th, 2013
sunshine when she’s gone

With the arrival of a new baby, a young Brooklyn couple say good-bye to sleep … and start making some very strange decisions.

Book Review: Invisible Armies

March 20th, 2013
Book Review: Invisible Armies

A big new book looks at the long history of guerrilla warfare and centers its lessons on our own time.

Book Review: All the Light There Was

March 19th, 2013
all the light there was

In this historical novel, the Armenian community of Paris negotiates the arrival of the Nazis – and a young girl navigates her first romance

Book Review: The Library of America Aldo Leopold

March 18th, 2013
schwartz – geesejpg

The most cherished nature classic since “Walden” gets the sparkling Library of America canonization

Book Review: The Blue Book

March 17th, 2013

A young woman finds herself on a ship at sea with both her fiance and a mysterious man from her past, and it’s all like something you’d find in a book …

Book Review: Adam Ferguson in the Scottish Enlightenment

March 16th, 2013
adam ferguson in the scottish englightenment

The greatest enemy of freedom is … democracy? Come get to know Scottish Enlightenment thinker Adam Ferguson, ladies and gentlemen!

Book Review: The Carriage House

March 16th, 2013
carriage house

A patrician family copes with all kinds of disappointment in Louisa Hall’s not-at-all-disappointing debut novel

Comics: Avengers Versus Thanos

March 15th, 2013
avengers versus thanosjpg

Before the mad demi-titan Thanos arrives to menace movie theaters in 2015, he menaced the good guys in decades of comics – a new anthology collects some of the best of the bad guy

Book Review: After Rome

March 14th, 2013
after rome

When Roman troops left Britain forever, the locals were forced to fend for themselves – and in Morgan Llywelyn’s latest historical novel, two cousins take two very different approaches to a world after Rome.

Norman Lebrecht’s CD of the Week – Valentina Lisitsa

March 13th, 2013
Norman Lebrecht’s CD of the Week – Valentina Lisitsa

Youtube sensation Valentina Lisitsa has put out the finest recording of Rachmaninov’s piano concertos in decades. Norman Lebrecht reviews.

Guest Movie Review: Oz the Great and Powerful

March 11th, 2013
Guest Movie Review: Oz the Great and Powerful

Director Sam Raimi takes on one of the greatest cinematic classics of ’em all – with decidedly mixed results

Book Review: Britain Begins

March 10th, 2013
britain begins

Long, long before Canute and the Confessor, England was a fascinating place – the great archaeologist Barry Cunliffe tells the tale!

Book Review: Louis Agassiz

March 8th, 2013

He revolutionized modern science, and then modern science left him behind. Now a glowing new biography introduces him to a new generation.

Guest Movie Review: Jack the Giant Slayer

March 7th, 2013

The old folk tale gets an sfx-laden kid-friendly modern retelling by one of Hollywood’s most successful directors

Book Review: The Murder of Cleopatra

March 5th, 2013
The Murder of Cleopatra Cover

When examining the death of Cleopatra, it’s inevitable: sooner or later, you’re going to have to deal with asp-holes

Book Review: Spartacus

March 5th, 2013
Book Review: Spartacus

He escaped from slavery, fought Rome, and became an immortal name – but what can we really know about Spartacus?

Book Review: The Praetorian Guard

March 4th, 2013
praetorian guard jpg

They guarded emperors, they served emperors, and occasionally they killed emperors – they were the Praetorian Guard

Book Review: The Devil’s Looking Glass

March 2nd, 2013
devil’s looking glass

In his latest adventure, Mark Chadbourn’s swashbuckling Elizabethan adventurer Will Swyfte continues his battle against the supernatural forces of the Unseelie Court

Book Review: The Leviathan Effect

February 28th, 2013
the leviathan effect

A enormous storm is bearing down on Washington D.C., and the President and his staff are confronted with a group of people who say they can stop the hurricane – for a price

Van Cliburn, 1934-2013

February 28th, 2013
Van Cliburn, 1934-2013

His repertoire was small, he was no barnstormer, and he gave up full-time concertizing in 1978. But Van Cliburn, who died yesterday at age 78, is to this day the most famous pianist America has …

Norman Lebrecht’s CD of the Week – Satie & Compagnie

February 27th, 2013
Norman Lebrecht’s CD of the Week – Satie & Compagnie

In a hypnotizing new recording from Mirare, pianist Anne Quéffélec performs the soothing chillout music of Frenchman Erik Satie–don’t listen while driving.

Book Review: Blood Sisters

February 23rd, 2013
blood sisters

Sarah Gristwood (author of the utterly delightful “Arbella: England’s Lost Queen”) charts the triumphs and tragedies of the seven key women in the Wars of the Roses

Book Review: The Average American Marriage

February 21st, 2013
average american marriage

The horny, feckless narrator of Kultgen’s “The Average American Male” returns: married, with kids – and, of course, lusting after a co-worker

Norman Lebrecht’s CD of the Week – The Coral Sea

February 20th, 2013
Norman Lebrecht’s CD of the Week – The Coral Sea

Six works by five living British composers for soprano saxophone – you’re shaking your head, but “The Coral Sea” is one of the musical delights of the year

Guest Movie Review: A Good Day to Die Hard

February 19th, 2013

John McClane rides again in the latest chapter of the “Die Hard” franchise

Comics: Thor the Mighty Avenger

February 16th, 2013
thor 1-4

A new collection featuring the adventures of a decidedly off-beat version of Marvel’s resident Thunder God

Comics: Marvel First – WWII Superheroes

February 15th, 2013
marvel 2-3

The Angel – the Silver Scorpion – the Destroyer – the Black Marvel – the Blazing Skull: not exactly household names today, but in the dark days of World War II, they fought the forces of evil for the entertainment of a new kind of reader: comic book fans

Book Review: A Great and Monstrous Thing

February 14th, 2013
a great and monstrous thing

“Houses, Churches, mix’d together – Streets, unpleasant in all Weather” – so wrote the poet about resolute, dissolute London, whose 18th century excesses are the subject of a grand new book

Book Review: How Literature Saved My Life

February 13th, 2013
how literature saved my life

David Shields, author of the ‘manifesto’ “Reality Hunger,” is still unhappy with boring old books. In fact, he’s still writing books about how unhappy he is.

Book Review: A Week in Winter

February 12th, 2013

Unsure of what to do with her life, a woman turns an old stone house into an inn on the coast of Ireland, and strangers begin to gather …

Book Review: I Will Have Vengeance

February 10th, 2013
i will have vengeance

In 1931 Naples, Commissario Ricciardi pursues the most desperate of criminals, driven by an absolute commitment to justice – and helped by a gift he alone possesses.

Book Review: The Aviator’s Wife

February 9th, 2013

A new novel tells the story of Anne Morrow Lindbergh, famous author and wife of an even more famous jerk.

Book Review: Europe Before Rome

February 8th, 2013
europe before rome

A profusely illustrated you-are-there look at the excavations into European prehistory

Book Review: Furies

February 8th, 2013

The Italian Renaissance of Michelangelo and Raphael was built by – and traumatized by – the constant tramping of hired armies. A provocative new study looks at the birth-price of the modern era

Guest Movie Review: Warm Bodies

February 7th, 2013

“Warm Bodies” is a zombie rom-com: but does boy meet girl, or EAT girl?

Norman Lebrecht’s CD of the Week – Scarlatti Illuminated

February 6th, 2013
Norman Lebrecht’s CD of the Week – Scarlatti Illuminated

Domenico Scarlatti has always been overshadowed by his contemporaries Bach and Handel. A new recording of his solo sonatas brings his gorgeous music front and center.

Book Review: Prosperous Friends

February 5th, 2013

There are delights of both language and story in Christine Schutt’s novel of connubial misery, Prosperous Friends. Greg Gerke reviews.

Classics Reissued: West with the Night

February 4th, 2013
west with the night reprint

The great travel-adventure classic gets a pretty new reprint

Book Review: Ways of Going Home

February 2nd, 2013

The newest novel from the newest Chilean literary wunderkind