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A Year in Reviews at OL Weekly

By (December 1, 2012) 2 Comments

Throughout 2012, Open Letters’ Steve Donoghue has been reviewing new and newly reissued books for our review annex OL Weekly. The books he’s selected have spanned the breadth of publishing, encompassing works of history, science, fine art, literary and genre fiction, comics, criticism and much more. He has reviewed — so far — 206 books, and we present them here, by their date of publication. We think they make for splendid reading and can aid all book-lovers in their search for new works or gifts for others. Perhaps most of all, they give a picture of the diverse and gorgeous banquet of books that a single year can offer.


January 1: Superman: Secret Origin, by Geoff Johns (writer) and Gary Frank (artist)
January 2: The Good Thief’s Guide to Venice, by Chris Ewan
January 3: The Favored Queen, by Carolly Erickson
January 4: Cape Cod Noir, edited by David L. Ulin
January 5: When Passion Rules, by Johanna Lindsey
January 7: India Black and the Widow of Windsor, by Carol K. Carr
January 9: The Deception at Lyme, by Carrie Bebris
January 10: The Year’s Best Science Fiction 28, edited by Gardner Dozois
January 11: The Darwin Archipelago, by Steve Jones
January 12: Sex and the River Styx, by Edward Hoagland
January 14: Spartacus: Swords and Ashes, by J.M. Clements
January 15: A Fire Upon the Deep, by Vernor Vinge
January 16: The Apocryphal Gospels, translated and edited by Bart D. Ehrman and Zlatko Plese
January 17: The Evolution of Ethan Poe, by Robin Reardon
January 18: The Drops of God, story by Tadashi Agi, art by Shu Okimoto
January 19: Mad About the Earl, by Christina Brooke
January 21: Reckless, by Cornelia Funke
January 22: Ben Jonson: A Life, by Ian Donaldson
January 23: Henry VIII, by David Loades
January 24: Death and Resurrection, by R.A. MacAvoy
January 25: Fear Itself, by Matt Fraction (script) and Stuart Immonen (art)
January 26: An Available Man, by Hilma Wolitzer
January 27: Iago, by David Snodin
January 29: The Design in Nature: How the Constructal Law Governs Evolution in Biology, Physics, Technology, and Social Organization, by Adrian Bejan and J. Peder Zane


February 1: Star Trek: The Rings of Time, by Greg Cox
February 3: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, in modern English by John Gardner
February 4: Ghost on the Throne: The Death of Alexander the Great and the War for Crown and Empire, by James Romm
February 5: Quiet, by Susan Cain
February 6: Zoopolis: A Political Theory of Animal Rights, by Sue Donaldson and Will Kymlicka
February 7: Avengers Prime, by Brian Michael Bendis (script) and Alan Davis (art)
February 8: City of Fortune: How Venice Ruled the Seas, by Roger Crowley
February 9: The Comedy is Finished, by Donald E. Westlake
February 11: What’s to Become of the Boy? Or, Something to Do with Books, by Heinrich Boll
February 12: The Oxford Handbook of Animal Ethics, edited by Tom L. Beauchamp and R. G. Frey
February 16: Kiev 1941: Hitler’s Battle for Supremacy in the East, by David Stahel
February 17: The Mystery of Dr. Fu-Manchu, by Sax Sohmer
February 18: The Forest Laird, by Jack Whyte
February 19: Avengers Assemble Vol. 2, by Kurt Busiek et al (script) and George Perez, et al (art)
February 20: The Frontiers of Imperial Rome, by David J. Breeze
February 23: Under the Moons of Mars: New Adventures on Barsoom, edited by John Joseph Adams
February 25: Illumination in the Flatwoods, by Joe Hutto
February 26: Enterprise: America’s Fightingest Ship and the Men Who helped Win World War II, by Barrett Tillman
February 27: Watergate, by Thomas Mallon
February 28: History of a Pleasure Seeker, by Richard Mason


March 1: Reading for My Life: Writings 1958-2008, by John Leonard
March 4: DC Universe: Legacies, by Len Wein (script) and Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, Joe Kubert, George Perez, et al (art)
March 5: The View from Lazy Point: A Natural Year in an Unnatural World, by Carl Safina
March 6: A Princess of Mars, by Roger Langridge (script) and Filipe Andrade (art)
March 10: The Lost History of 1914: Reconsidering the Year the Great War Began, by Jack Beatty
March 11: The Inquisitor, by Mark Allen Smith
March 12: The Hemlock Cup: Socrates, Athens, and the Search for the Good Life, by Bettany Hughes
March 15: Tutankhamen: The Search for an Egyptian King, by Joyce Tyldesley
March 16: Restless in the Grave, by Dana Stabenow
March 17: The Forest Unseen: A Year’s Watch in Nature, by David George Haskell
March 18: Heaven Cracks, Earth Shakes: The Tangshan Earthquake and the Death of Mao’s China, by James Palmer
March 20: The Holy Bible (King James Version), illustrated by Gustave Dore
March 23: The Last Pre-Raphaelite: Edward Burne-Jones and the Victorian Imagination, by Fiona MacCarthy
March 29: The Crimes of Elagabalus: The Life and Legacy of Rome’s Decadent Boy Emperor, by Martijn Icks


April 1: Empire of Shadows: The Epic Story of Yellowstone, by George Black
April 2: Love, Fiercely: A Gilded Age Romance, by Jean Zimmerman
April 5: Human Rights Watch World Report 2012, published by Seven Stories Press
April 6: Mutants & Mystics: Science Fiction, Superhero Comics, and the Paranormal, by Jeffrey J. Kripal
April 7: Songs of the Earth, by Elspeth Cooper
April 10: Berlin at War, by Roger Moorhouse
April 13: West Briton Story, by Tom O’Rourke
April 15: Paris, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down, by Rosecrans Baldwin
April 16: Elegy for Eddie: A Maisie Dobbs Novel, by Jacqueline Winspear
April 19: The Marsh Lions: The Story of an African Pride, by Brian Jackman and Jonathan Scott
April 21: The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories, edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer
April 22: Uncovering the Truth about Meriwether Lewis, by Thomas Danisi
April 23: Dawn of Egyptian Art, edited by Diana Craig Patch
April 24: That Woman: The Life of Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor, by Anne Sebba
April 26: Essential Avengers: Volume 8, Marvel Comics
April 27: The Unexpected Guests, by Sadie Jones
April 28: The Book of Deadly Animals, by Gordon Grice


May 1: The Atlantic and Its Enemies, by Norman Stone
May 2: Farther Away: Essays, by Jonathan Franzen
May 3: Avengers: The Children’s Crusade, by Allen Heinberg (script) and Jim Cheung (art)
May 5: The Selected Letters of Charles Dickens, edited by Jenny Hartley
May 6: Star Trek: That Which Divides, by Dayton Ward
May 7: The Confession: An Inspector Ian Rutledge Mystery, by Charles Todd
May 10: The Sounding of the Whale: Science and Cetaceans in the Twentieth Century, by D. Graham Burnett
May 11: My Two Moms: Lessons of Love, Strength, and What Makes a Family, by Zach Wahls (with Bruce Littlefield)
May 12: Midstream: An Unfinished Memoir, by Reynolds Price
May 13: The Romans Who Shaped Britain, by Sam Moorhead and David Stuttard
May 15: Overseas, by Beatriz Williams
May 17: HHhH, by Laurent Binet (translated from the French by Sam Taylor)
May 18: Avengers Assemble: Volume 3, by Kurt Busiek (script) & George Perez (art)
May 19: Michelangelo: The Achievement of Fame, by Michael Hirst
May 20: The Taming of the Rogue, by Amanda McCabe
May 22: Of Moose and Men, by Dr. Jerry Haigh
May 24: Anno Dracula: Bloody Red Baron, by Kim Newman
May 26: The Mabinogion Tetralogy, by Evangeline Walton
May 28: Midnight in Peking, by Paul French


June 3: The Legion of Super-Heroes: Archives Vol. 13, DC Comics
June 5: The Family Corleone, by Ed Falco
June 7: The Last Full Measure: How Soldiers Die in Battle, by Michael Stephenson
June 8: Batman: The Court of Owls: Vol 1, by Scott Snyder (script) and Greg Capullo (art)
June 9: Elusive Victories: The American Presidency at War, by Andrew J. Polsky
June 10: The Weight of Vengeance: The United States, the British Empire, and the War of 1812, by Troy Bickham
June 12: Her Highness the Traitor, by Susan Higginbotham
June 14: The Laws of the Ring, by Urijah Faber
June 15: Capital, by John Lanchester
June 16: Exposing the Big Game: Living Targets of a Dying Sport, by Jim Robertson
June 17: Hitler’s Berlin: Abused City, by Thomas Friedrich
June 19: At the Mercy of the Queen, by Anne Clinard Barnhill
June 21: Life Everlasting: The Animal Way of Death, by Bernd Heinrich
June 22: The Last Lost World: Ice Ages, Human Origins, and the Invention of the Pleistocene, by Lydia V. Pyne and Stephen J. Pyne
June 25: The Omnivorous Mind: Our Evolving Relationship with Food, by John S. Allen
June 28: The Take-Charge Patient: How You Can Get the Best Medical Care, by Martine Ehrenclou


July 5: The Year’s Best Science Fiction: Twenty-Ninth Annual Collection, edited by Gardner Dozois
July 6: Wellington’s Wars: The Making of a Military Genius, by Huw Davies
July 7: The Storm of War: A New History of the Second World War, by Andrew Roberts
July 9: Essential Spider-Man: Volume 11, by Roger Stern (script) and John Romita Sr. & Jr. (art)
July 10: Wake of the Bloody Angel, by Alex Bledsoe
July 11: The Last Divine Office: Henry VIII and the Dissolution of the Monasteries, by Geoffrey Moorhouse
July 15: The Taste of War: World War II and the Battle for Food, by Lizzie Collingham
July 21: Equal of the Sun, by Anita Amirrezvani
July 22: Three A. M., by Steven John
July 23: The Oxford History of the Novel in English, Vol. 3: The Nineteenth-Century Novel 1820-1880, edited by John Kucich and Jenny Bourne Taylor
July 24: The Second World War, by Antony Beevor
July 26: Conquest: The English Kingdom of France, 1417-1450, by Juliet Barker
July 27: Fevre Dream, George R.R. Martin
July 29: The Black Rhinos of Namibia, by Rick Bass
July 30: London: A History in Verse, edited by Mark Ford


August 4: Legion of Super-Heroes: Hostile World, by Paul Levitz (script) and Francis Portela (art)
August 6: Demon Fish: Travels Through the Hidden World of Sharks, by Juliet Eilperin
August 8: Jack 1939, by Francine Mathews
August 9: Star Trek: Department of Temporal Investigations – Forgotten History, by Christopher L. Bennett
August 10: The Spymaster’s Daughter, by Jeane Westin
August 11: Spartacus: Morituri, by Mark Morris
August 12: Fatal Colours: Towton 1461 – England’s Most Brutal Battle, by George Goodwin
August 13: The Oxford Handbook of Thomas Middleton, edited by Gary Taylor & Trish Thomas Henley
August 16: James Madison: A Son of Virginia and a Founder of the Nation, by Jeff Broadwater
August 17: The Brontes – Wild Genius on the Moors: The Story of a Literary Family, by Juliet Barker
August 19: Terrible Swift Sword: The Life of General Philip H. Sheridan, by Joseph Wheelan
August 20: The Kingmaker’s Daughter, by Philippa Gregory
August 22: The Lucky Ones: My Passionate Fight for Farm Animals, by Jenny Brown and Gretchen Primack
August 23: Fear Itself, by Matt Fraction (script) and Stuart Immonen (art)
August 25: Dialectical Disputations, by Lorenzo Valla, translated by Brian Copenhaver and Lodi Nauta
August 27: The Men Who Would Be King, by Josephine Ross
August 28: Venice: History of the Floating City, by Joanne Ferraro
August 30: Venice & Vitruvius, by Margaret Muther D’Evelyn
August 31: Venice From the Water, by Daniel Savoy


September 1: Arguably: Essays, by Christopher Hitchens
September 2: Hadrian: Empire and Conflict, by Thorsten Opper
September 3: Master and God, by Lindsey Davis
September 4: Legions of Rome: The Definitive History of Every Imperial Roman Legion, by Stephen Dando-Collins
September 5: Reaper, by K. D. McEntire
September 6: King Stephen, by Edmund King
September 7: Kiss of Steel, by Bec McMaster
September 8: The Caliph’s Splendor: Islam and the West in the Golden Age of Baghdad, by Benson Bobrick
September 9: The Poems of Jesus Christ, translated by Willis Barnstone
September 11: Emma: An Annotated Edition, by Jane Austen, edited by Bharat Tandon
September 13: Namor: Visionaries, Volume 2, written & art by John Byrne
September 14: Song of Wrath: The Peloponnesian War Begins, by J. E. Lendon
September 15: Mistress of Mourning, by Karen Harper
September 16: I, Jane, by Diane Haeger
September 17: The Unfaithful Queen, by Carolly Erickson
September 18: Blood Eye (Raven: Book One), by Giles Kristian
September 22: Beyond Rosie the Riveter: Women of World War II in American Popular Graphic Art, by Donna B. Knaff
September 23: The Christmas Carol Murders, by Christopher Lord
September 24: Finally Free: An Autobiography, by Michael Vick, Brett Honeycutt, and Stephen Copeland
September 25: Who Wrote Shakespeare’s Plays?, by William D. Rubinstein
September 26: Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin, by Timothy Snyder


October 4: The Paperboy, by Pete Dexter
October 6: Homer: The Iliad, translated by Edward McCrorie
October 8: Spider-Man: Nothing Can Stop the Juggernaut, by Roger Stern (scripts) and John Romita, Jr. (art)
October 10: Commentaries on Plato, Volume 2: Parmenides (in two volumes), by Marsilio Ficino, translated by Maude Vanhaelen
October 11: Listening In: The Secret White House Recordings of John F. Kennedy, selected and introduced by Ted Widmer
October 12: Essential Thor: Volume 6, by Gerry Conway, Bill Mantlo (scripts) and John Buscema, Sal Buscema (art)
October 14: The Ice Castle: An Adventure in Music, by Pendred Noyce, by illustrations by Joan Charles
October 18: Joseph Anton: A Memoir, by Salman Rushdie
October 20: The Founders and Finance: How Hamilton, Gallatin, and Other Immigrants Forged a New Economy, by Thomas K. McGraw
October 21: Through the Eye of a Needle, by Peter Brown
October 22: Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic, by David Quammen
October 23: The Shadow: Blood & Judgment, written & drawn by Howard Chaykin
October 25: The Lion Sleeps Tonight: And Other Stories of Africa, by Rian Malan
October 27: London Eye (Toxic City, Book One), by Tim Lebbon
October 28: Among the Islands: Adventures in the Pacific, by Tim Flannery


November 1: Forever Rumpole, by John Mortimer
November 2: Rise to Greatness: Abraham Lincoln and America’s Most Perilous Year, by David Von Drehle
November 4: X-Men: The Hidden Years, Volume 2, by John Byrne
November 8: A True Patriot: The Journal of William Thomas Emerson, by Barry Denenberg
November 11: Princess Elizabeth’s Spy: A Maggie Hope Mystery, by Susan Elia MacNeal
November 12: 5001 Nights at the Movies, by Pauline Kael
November 13: Shakespeare’s Common Prayers: The Book of Common Prayer and the Elizabethan Age, by Daniel Swift
November 14: Practically Wicked, by Alissa Johnson
November 15: Dialogues, Vol. I (Charon and Antonius), by Giovanni Gioviano Pontano, translated by Julia Haig Gaisser
November 16: Foundation: The History of England from Its Earliest Beginnings to the Tudors, by Peter Ackroyd
November 17: The Clone Sedition, by Steven L. Kent
November 18: Legion: Secret Origin, by Paul Levitz (script), Chris Batista (art)
November 19: The World of Persian Literary Humanism, by Hamid Dabashi
November 20: Tarzan: The Centennial Celebration, by Scott Tracy Griffin
November 21: The Pharaoh: Life at Court and on Campaign, by Garry J. Shaw
November 22: Cry Havoc: How the Arms Race Drove the World to War, 1931-1941, by Joseph Maiolo
November 23: Nexus Omnibus Volume 1, by Mike Baron (script) and Steve Rude (art)
November 25: Alibis: Essays on Elsewhere, by Andre Aciman
November 26: Wonders of the Indian Wilderness, by Erach Bharucha
November 27: The Man Who Wouldn’t Stand Up, by Jacob M. Appel
November 28: Kafka in Love, by Jacqueline Raoul-Duval


December 4: The Big New Yorker Book of Dogs
December 7: Spectrum 19: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art, edited by Cathy Fenner & Artie Fenner
December 8: A Dangerous Inheritance: A Novel of Tudor Rivals and the Secret of the Tower, by Alison Weir
December 9: The English Bible: King James Version, edited by Herbert Marks, Gerald Hammond, and Austin Busch
December 11: Counting One’s Blessings: The Selected Letters of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, edited by William Shawcross

Steve Donoghue is a writer and reader living in Boston with his dogs. He’s recently reviewed books for The Washington Post, The National, The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe, Historical Novel Review Online, and The Quarterly Conversation. He is the Managing Editor of Open Letters Monthly, and hosts one of its blogs, Stevereads.