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Articles in OL Weekly

Book Review: Christopher Hitchens – The Last Interview

December 4th, 2017
hitchens last interview

The latest in the “Last Interview” series from Melville House features the renowned iconoclast Christopher Hitchens.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – John Blow’s ode

December 1st, 2017

John Blow has forever lived in the shadow of Henry Purcell, his former student. His musical response to the Purcell’s death was partly competitive – others were also producing Purcell laments – but also discernably personal.

Book Review: The Fate of Rome

November 30th, 2017
fate of rome

To the long list of potential explanations for the fall of Rome, a gripping new book adds one more: climate change.

In Paperback: Beyond the Red

November 29th, 2017
beyond the red

The relationship between an alien queen and a renegade warrior forms the heart of Jae’s epic SFF novel set on the desert planet Safara in “Beyond the Red,” now in paperback.

Book Review: Giannozzo Manetti

November 25th, 2017
manetti harvard

New in the I Tatti series: a tract in praise of Christianity (at the expense of Jews and ancient pagans) by a towering figure of the early Renaissance.

Book Review: The First Domestication

November 24th, 2017
first domestication

The ancient partnership between humans and canines is the subject of a thorough new volume of research

Book Review: Spineless

November 24th, 2017

A fascinating new book looks at the unendingly odd jellyfish – and some of the unexpected roles it plays in the 21st century world.

Book Review: The Friendly Orange Glow

November 21st, 2017
friendly orange

A tremendously involving narrative history of a forgotten chapter in Internet history

Book Review: The Dawn Watch

November 20th, 2017
dawn watch

A fantastic new biography of Joseph Conrad follows him around in his travels and delves into the heart of his many books.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Cecilia and Sol

November 17th, 2017

The present album brings together the super-mezzo Cecilia Bartoli and cellist Sol Gabetta. It is as good as it gets, until you realize that you can get too much of a good thing.

Book Review: The Big Book of the Continental Op

November 15th, 2017
big book continental op

All of Dashiell Hammett’s stories and novels featuring the Continental Op, collected in one volume for the first time.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Late Schubert Sonatas

November 10th, 2017

Some records grab you by the ears, others take longer to impress. It is in no sense to Krystian Zimerman’s discredit that his first attempt at late Schubert took three spins on my deck before I grasped the originality of his interpretation.

Book Review: Cartoon County

November 10th, 2017
valiant bridge

In “Cartoon County,” Vanity Fair editor Cullen Murphy recounts his famous cartoonist father’s adventures during the heyday of the American pop art industry.

Book Review: Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts

November 9th, 2017
remarkable manu

The life stories of twelve incredible medieval manuscripts.

Book Review: The Water Will Come

November 6th, 2017
water will come

A powerful new book covers in terrifying detail what happens to the modern world if Earth’s ice caps dissolve.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Les Troyens

November 3rd, 2017
0190295762209_Les Troyens_cover

The need for a new-gen recording of Berlioz’s epic opera Les Troyens is pressing. A new release aims for the crown and hits its mark.

Normal Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – George Martin

October 27th, 2017

This first album of George Martin’s orchestral music and film scores, elegantly played by Craig Leon’s Berlin’s Music Ensemble, gives us an opportunity to see what might have been going on behind George’s determinedly bland musical façade.

Book Review: The Second World Wars

October 27th, 2017
second world wars

Veteran military historian Victor Davis Hanson writes a broad-scale history of the Second World War.

Book Review: The Collector of Lives

October 26th, 2017
thecollector of lives

Giorgio Vasari, the author of a fundamental and beloved collection of the lives of Renaissance artists, here gets a lively and readable biography of his own.

Book Review: Grant

October 25th, 2017

Bestselling biographer Ron Chernow tells the story of famous general and infamous president Ulysses S. Grant.

Book Review: Trump is F*cking Crazy

October 24th, 2017
trump keith

Former newscaster and sports commentator Keith Olbermann is a new star of YouTube for his strident opposition to President Trump; his new book provides the transcript.

Book Review: Iran: A Modern History

October 23rd, 2017

A sprawling new history of Iran from the 16th century to the present brings the multi-faceted story of Persia alive.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Weiner Divertimentos

October 21st, 2017

The five Divertimentos that make up the bulk of this release date from the 1930s to 1950s and, rooted in folk dances, are determinedly upbeat. You’d never know that Hitler and Stalin were banging at the door.

Book Review: Istanbul

October 19th, 2017
Book Review: Istanbul

Orhan Pamuk’s bestselling love letter to Istanbul receives a gorgeous new illustrated edition.

Book Review: Tamed & Untamed

October 17th, 2017

Two beloved writers of natural history team up to tell stories about a host of animal species, from the ones in our homes to the ones in our gardens to the ones still prowling the wild.

Book Review: Calder

October 17th, 2017

The legendary avant-garde sculptor Alexander Calder gets his very first biography, written by art critic Jed Perl

Normal Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Chopin Evocations

October 13th, 2017

Daniil Trifonov thinks nothing of coming on stage with one wrist in a bandage, no explanation offered, or of asking the audience not to applaud at any time through a 90-minute recital, so it would be absurd to expect him to release a conventional Chopin album.

Book Review: A Fur Trader on the Upper Missouri

October 13th, 2017
Book Review: A Fur Trader on the Upper Missouri

A new translation of a virtually-unknown gem: the writings of a French trapper, trader, and voyageur in the rough and beautiful wilds of the American frontier of his day.

Book Review: Leonardo Da Vinci

October 13th, 2017

Bestselling biographer Walter Isaacson adds another massive tome to the pile of those devoted to the quintessential Renaissance man, Leonardo Da Vinci.

Book Review: The Big Book of Rogues and Villains

October 12th, 2017
big book of rogues and villains

The latest enormous anthology from Otto Penzler features the dandies of the demimonde, the stylish thieves and ruthless killers of popular fiction.

Book Review: Stalin – Waiting for Hitler, 1929-1941

October 11th, 2017
stalin kotkin

Stephen Kotkin’s groundbreaking multi-volume biography of Stalin continues with the uneasy alliance between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany.

Book Review: Russia in Flames

October 10th, 2017
russia in flames

A big, lively new history assesses the troubled life and blighted nature of Bolshevism.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Mozart: Violin Concerto, Sonata

October 6th, 2017

Noa Wildschut first appeared on Dutch television at six years old and at the Concertgebouw a year later. She’s 16 now, old enough to take a bit of criticism and interesting enough to warrant adult consideration.

Book Review: Vanguard of the Revolution

October 4th, 2017
vanguard of the revolution

The grand, global history of Communism’s century-long reign of terror is the subject of A. James McAdams’ authoritative new book.

Book Review: Adults in the Room

October 3rd, 2017
adults in the room

Former finance minister for Greece Yanis Varoufakis has written a book about his time on the world stage during his country’s financial crisis.

Book Review: The Meaning of Belief

October 2nd, 2017
the meaning of belief

The gap between the religious and the “New Atheists” seems wider than ever – but have both sides failed even to understand each other? A pocket-sized new book examines some of the oldest questions of all.

Book Review: The New Testament

October 1st, 2017
new testament cover

A new translation of the New Testament strips away the baroque filigree and presents the raw, jumbled voices of the original.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Scriabin: 2nd Symphony, Piano Concerto

September 29th, 2017

Scriabin, as he so often does, takes us to the brink only to skitter away on some frivolity. But there is much to enjoy here, so long as you don’t expect too much.

Book Review: James Conant, Warrior Scientist

September 27th, 2017
man of the hour

US weapons-making scientist in two world wars and a path-making president of Harvard James Conant gets a generous biography, written by his granddaughter.

Book Review: Pious Fashion

September 27th, 2017
pious fashion

A new book looks at the intricate world of Muslim women’s clothing fashions.

Book Review: Lightning Men

September 26th, 2017
lightning men

Racially charged 1950 Atlanta is the setting for Thomas Mullen’s brutal, terrific new crime thriller.

Book Review: The Templars

September 25th, 2017

The Knights Templar have been captured on stage, page, and screen countless times; a new book separates history from legend.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Haydn: Cello Concertos

September 24th, 2017

The instant appeal of this recording is that it contains not just two well-known Haydn concertos but three extra pieces that complement and contextualize them. The second benefit is the performance.

Book Review: Purpose & Desire

September 19th, 2017
purpose & desire

A new book stares into the divide between living and non-living matter and finds the darndest things staring back.

Book Review: Bunny Mellon

September 18th, 2017
bunny mellon

Renowned socialite Bunny Mellon, who made headlines for an entire century, gets a big, generous new biography.

Interview: Mark Helprin

September 18th, 2017

Novelist Mark Helprin talks about his new book, “Paris in the Present Tense”

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Surviving: Jewish Women

September 15th, 2017

Four releases, arriving in timely fashion for the upcoming New Year, explore the shushed-up sounds of creative Jewish femininity.

Book Review: iGen

September 14th, 2017

Are cell phones and ‘smart’ technology rotting the minds of today’s young people? A controversial new book makes the case.

Book Review: The Unfinished Palazzo

September 14th, 2017
unfinished palazzo

A small portion of the life of one famous Venetian palace is told through the lives of three remarkable women who ruled it in the 20th century.

Book Review: Out of China

September 11th, 2017
out of china

The roots of new Chinese nationalism extend back through well over a century of foreign meddling, as a comprehensive new history shows.

Len Wein

September 10th, 2017

Len Wein

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Unknown Composers

September 8th, 2017

None of the music on this gripping compilation will be familiar to anyone alive, but much of it is essential listening.

Book Review: The Cold War

September 6th, 2017

A massive new study looks at the Cold War as a world war, touching – and often toppling – governments far from Washington or Moscow.

Book Review: The Witch

September 6th, 2017
the witch

Paganism scholar Ronald Hutton’s fascinating new book delves into the long history of the witch in human societies.

Book Review: The Republic For Which It Stands

September 4th, 2017
the republic for which

America in the sordid wilderness years between the end of the Civil War and the dawn of the 20th century is the focus of the newest volume in the mighty Oxford History of the United States.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – C.P.E. Bach: Late Keyboard Pieces

September 1st, 2017

A vintage piano helps Alexei Lyubimov redeem C.P.E. Bach’s late keyboard music from mediocrity, adding pastel colours to the sound picture, along with a hint of unpredictability that can almost be Cageian.

Book Review: The World of Tomorrow

September 1st, 2017
world of tomorrow

The fates of three very different Irish brothers in prewar Manhattan intertwine in Brendan Mathews’ impressive debut novel.

Book Review: The Future Won’t Be Long

September 1st, 2017
the future won’t be long

An ’80s club kid wises up and gets all sad and melancholy in Jarett Kobek’s follow-up to this surprise hit “I Hate the Internet”

Book Review: The Massacre of Mankind

August 30th, 2017
massacre of mankind

“The War of the Worlds” by H. G. Wells gets an authorized sequel in which you-know-who are back for another shot at conquering the Earth.

Book Review: Quakeland

August 29th, 2017

An enormous earthquake is an inevitable feature of America’s near future, and yet as Kathryn Miles’ gripping new book makes clear, the country is completely, willfully unprepared.

Book Review: The Party

August 29th, 2017
the party

A smart new novel looks back through fractured viewpoints at the dramatic events of a party at an English country house.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the week – Hans Werner Hanze

August 25th, 2017

It has been five years since Hans Werner Henze left us, and it is once again a pleasure to encounter these otherworldly pieces, rich in references to a forgotten age and its leisurely pace.

Book Review: Judgment at Appomattox

August 23rd, 2017
judgment at appomattox

The bitter final weeks of the American Civil War form backdrop of Ralph Peters’ dark, powerful latest novel.

Book Review: Bush and Cheney

August 23rd, 2017
bush & cheney

One of the most outspoken critics of the official version of 9-11 now writes a wide-ranging assessment of the long-term consequences of the Bush-Cheney administration.

Book Review: The Riviera at War

August 22nd, 2017
the riviera at war

An impressive new history details the many sides of the fighting that came to the French Riviera during the Second World War

Book Review: The World Broke in Two

August 20th, 2017

A new book contends that one particular year in the wake of the First World War changed the literary landscape forever.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – For Bunita Marcus

August 18th, 2017

Marc-André Hamelin plays a piece, tainted by controversy, that Morton Feldman wrote as an act of homage to Bunita Marcus, who accused him of theft and sexual abuse.

Book Review: One Summer Day in Rome

August 17th, 2017

The lives of five visiting Americans are forever changed by their short but eventful stays in the Eternal City.

Book Review: The Paris Spy

August 17th, 2017
the paris spy

The unsinkable Maggie Hope is on the case again in Susan Elia MacNeal’s latest historical whodunit – this time set in Nazi-occupied Paris.

Book Review: Midnight in the Pacific

August 15th, 2017
midnight in the pacific

A key turning-point in the Battle of the Pacific gets a richly anecdotal new history.

Book Review: Their Backs Against the Sea

August 14th, 2017
Book Review: Their Backs Against the Sea

A ferocious and largely forgotten island battle marked a key point in the Pacific theater of the Second World War. A new book tells the story of the Battle of Saipan.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – El-Khoury and Spyres in Concert

August 11th, 2017

A new release from Opera Rara usually consists of some bel canto work that has languished forgotten in a vault since its premiere 160 years ago. This package, though, is different: a pair of debut releases by two fast-rising singers, soprano and tenor, mingling well-known arias with the fairly obscure.

Book Review: The Half-Drowned King

August 9th, 2017
the half-drowned king

The first installment in a projected series about a wily Viking warrior, his leader – and the women in his life

Book Review: The Seventh Function of Language

August 8th, 2017
seventfunction cover

Was the death of literary theorist Roland Barthes in 1980 the result of a simple traffic accident – or part of a deeper plot? Laurent Binet’s new novel takes readers into the weird world of ginned-up semiology.

Book Review: A Talent for Murder

August 7th, 2017
a talent for murder

Andrew Wilson’s new novel dramatizes the real-life ten-day disappearance of mystery novelist Agatha Christie nearly a century ago – and adds a touch of murder.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – The Dream of Gerontius

August 4th, 2017

Daniel Barenboim’s new recording of Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius is the best-sounding on record. But is it the best-played?

Book Review: The Treaty of Versailles

August 2nd, 2017

A new short treatment of the pivotal Treaty of Versailles by one of the greatest working historians of the First World War.

Book Review: In the Highest Degree Tragic

August 1st, 2017

The doomed valor of the small, scrappy US Asiatic Fleet in the Pacific Theater, often overlooked in WWII histories, now gets an elaborate new chronicle.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Mahler’s 5th

July 28th, 2017

Mahler’s 5th Symphony has no shortage of fine interpretations. Two new recordings join them: one great and the other among the greatest of all time.

Book Review: Grace

July 24th, 2017

A young girl in 19th-century Ireland sets off on a dangerous odyssey with her even-younger brother in Paul Lynch’s new novel.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Walton: concerto & variations

July 21st, 2017

William Walton is very much an on-off composer. What’s remarkable about this recording is that the performance transcends his shortcomings.

Book Review: Bed-Stuy is Burning

July 19th, 2017
bed-stuy is burning

A debut novel tackles the volatile issues of gentrification and police brutality.

Book Review: Madame Zero

July 18th, 2017
madame zero

Many readers will find reflections of themselves in the nine stories that comprise Sarah Hall’s newest collection.

Book Review: The Epiphany Machine

July 18th, 2017

A mysterious machine gives people tattoos that reveal deep oracular truths about themselves – and drives one young man to understand it all.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Fischer-Dieskau, Varady: Romantic duets

July 14th, 2017

Together, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and his wife Julia Varady make the love in Schumann’s songs seem somehow less hopeless, and the hope in Mendelssohn less forlorn.

Book Review: See What I Have Done

July 12th, 2017
see what I have done

The famous Lizzie Borden axe-murders are 125 years old in 2017, and a new debut novel explores the horrors from the viewpoints of several people directly involved.

Book Review: We Shall Not All Sleep

July 10th, 2017
we shall not all sleep

The centuries-old rivalry between two families erupts in new tensions during one summer on a small island off the coast of Maine

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Shostakovich & Martinu cello concertos

July 7th, 2017

Two cello concertos, one upbeat, the other pessemistic, make a perfect companions on this new disc.

Book Review: Patrick Henry

July 5th, 2017

A lavishly-detailed new biography tells the story of the Virginia plantation-owner and early voice for independence from Great Britain

Book Review: The New Annotated Frankenstein

July 4th, 2017

Mary Shelley’s indomitable horror classic gets a sumptuous new annotated edition.

Book Review: Warner Bros

July 3rd, 2017

The latest entry in Yale’s “Jewish Lives” series is the story of Warner Brothers Studo, by the great film historian David Thomson

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

June 30th, 2017

he music of Ben-Haim will not change lives – by 1984, when he died, it was hardly heard in Israel any more – but the musical personality behind it is attractive, smart and persuasive

Book Review: The Allies Strike Back

June 28th, 2017
allies strike back

A vivid new history recounts the resurgence of the Allies against the Germany war machine during the highest pitch of the Second World War

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Strauss songs

June 23rd, 2017

To sing Richard Strauss, everything has to be just-so, shimmering on the surface and hinting at Freudian urges below. English soprano Louise Alder meets his challenge.

Book Review: Blood Royal

June 20th, 2017
blood royal

A sharp new history recounts the pitch-and-tumble fortunes of York and Lancaster during the Wars of the Roses

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Carbonelli: Sonate da Camera

June 16th, 2017

ever heard of Carbonelli? Don’t feel too bad about it. Listen to the music, though, and you will wonder how work of such quality and intricacy could vanish so comprehensively into the mists of history.

Book Review: The White Road

June 14th, 2017
teh white road

The quest for social media click-traffic leads a young video-maker to the heights of the world’s deadliest mountain in Sarah Lotz’s new thriller.

Book Review: Heretics & Believers

June 12th, 2017
heretics & believers

A big, wonderfully readable new history of the sixteenth-century religious upheaval that transformed English life

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week: Russia Cast Adrift

June 9th, 2017

Georgy Sviridov was born in the thick of Russia’s metamorphosis, and his idiom in these lieder – narrative, tonal, almost static at times – reflects the stand-off between political upheaval and the impervious cycles of nature.

Book Review: The Best Land Under Heaven

June 7th, 2017
best land under

A thorough and searching new book explores not only the tragic fate of the Donner Party but the dreams that motivated them in the first place.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Ravel and De Falla concertos

June 2nd, 2017

There is a lot of competition for performances of Ravel and De Falla’s work for piano and orchestra, but Steven Osborne’s new release belongs among the best.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Shostakovich’s First

May 26th, 2017
Shostakovich cover

There is nothing wrong with this account of Shostakovich’s First Symphony it if you count all the notes and admire the sound. It takes no risks at all, and is only partially redeemed by the inclusion of rare juvenalia.

Book Review: Paradise Lost

May 23rd, 2017
paradise lost

The newest biography of the Jazz Age bard tries to get at the man beneath the high-flying legends.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Kathleen Ferrier remembered

May 19th, 2017

Listening to these Kathleen Ferrier tracks, newly retrieved from BBC broadcasts and never released before, one is struck over again by the great contralto’s overriding characteristic – her natural, unfettered generosity.

Book Review: Ernest Hemingway

May 19th, 2017

The epic and tortured life of Ernest Hemingway is told with remarkable insight in a powerful new biography

Book Review: The Afterlife of John Fitzgerald Kennedy

May 19th, 2017
jfk afterlife

An intriguing new book charts the long, complicated, and surprisingly vital JFK memory-industry.

Book Review: Be Like the Fox

May 18th, 2017
be like the fox

A vivid new biography attempts to get at the true nature of the perennially-misunderstood Machiavelli

Book Review: Jane Austen, The Secret Radical

May 17th, 2017

A hugely readable new book examines the progressive social thinker behind the most beloved novels of English literature.

Book Review: Sting Like a Bee

May 16th, 2017
sting like a bee

The greatest boxer of all time was once involved in a years-long battle … with the US government. A hugely readable new book tells the story.

Book Review: He’s Got Rhythm

May 15th, 2017
UKY06 He’s Got Rhythm Selected.indd

The legendary hoofer and showman Gene Kelly gets a big, winning new biography

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Impromptu

May 12th, 2017

Shai Wosner has released a fine recording of impromptus by various composers. But when you’re done listening, where do you put it?

Book Review: How the Zebra Got Its Stripes

May 9th, 2017

Popular YouTube sensation Léo Grasset imports his brand of easygoing biology lessons to the pages of a slim book.

Normal Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Mahler’s Third Symphony

May 5th, 2017

There is no wholly recommendable performance on record of Mahler’s third symphony. This performance, by Ivan Fischer and the Budapest Festival Orchestra, is uneven but worthwhile nonetheless.

Book Review: Salt Houses

May 4th, 2017

A Palestinian family is driven from one place of exile to another in this memorable debut novel.

Book Review: The End of Eddy

May 2nd, 2017
the end of eddy

The English-language translation of a French novella about the everyday trials and setbacks of growing up gay

Book Review: The Dinner Party and Other Stories

May 1st, 2017

The latest volume from Joshua Ferris collects eleven of his punchy and evocative short stories.

The 71st Annual Edgar Awards

April 30th, 2017

Open Letters’ mystery maven Irma Heldman recaps the action-packed events from the Mystery Writers of America’s 71st annual Edgar Award

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Lokshin’s Clarinet quintet

April 28th, 2017

A composer uncompromising in his reckless independence, Alexander Lokshin is not always approachable. Consider this release an icebreaker.

Book Review: Dogs of War

April 25th, 2017
dogs of war

Killer robot dogs playing fetch with weapons of mass destruction! Killer ‘smart’ machines the size of a grain of sand! And every last little thing weaponized! It’s the latest Joe Ledger novel.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Davidsbündlertänze

April 21st, 2017

Do not be put off either by the coupling of Schumann with a record newbie whose name you may not recognize. Schumann requires intense contemplation before an artist can make more than pretty gallery pictures of his pieces, and Luca Burrato is up to the challenge.

Book Review: Hamlet Globe to Globe

April 21st, 2017

A terrific new book tells the story of what happens when a hardy company takes the world’s most famous play to every country on Earth.

Book Review: What Algorithms Want

April 20th, 2017
what algorithms want

A cogent, sobering new book looks at the computer conversations that increasingly shape every aspect of our lives.

Book Review: The Malmedy Massacre

April 19th, 2017

One of the most shocking incidents of the Battle of the Bulge was the slaughter of a group of US prisoners by the SS at Malmedy. A gripping new book tells the story of the massacre and its tangled aftermath

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Szymanowski

April 14th, 2017

I generally receive the springtime festival releases with the same excitement as I’d feel about a Placido Domingo Christmas record. What comes round, comes round. This one, however, is pure class

Book Review: Humanism and the Latin Classics

April 13th, 2017

The latest addition to the I Tatti Renaissance Library gives readers the letters and prefaces of one of the greatest publishers of his day – Aldus Manutius.

Book Review: Birds of Prey

April 13th, 2017
birds of prey

The savage, beautiful carnivore-birds who fly and hunt by day are the subject of an enthusiastic new book

Book Review: The Quarry Fox

April 12th, 2017

A charming new book takes readers into the fascinating world of Catskills “critters,” trees, trails, and even rocks.

Book Review: The Complete Old English Poems

April 12th, 2017
Book Review: The Complete Old English Poems

A hefty new volume brings together all the poetry of the Old English world, wrought into modern verse.

Book Review: Becoming Leonardo

April 10th, 2017
becoming leonardo

An unconventional and compulsively readable new biography tries to get at the heart of the quintessential Renaissance Man.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Rachmaninov concertos

April 7th, 2017

It’s raining Rachmaninov concertos and I’m not sure the roof can take any more. This is the third new release in two weeks. Is it any good?

Book Review: Protestants

April 4th, 2017

A invigorating new history looks at the tumultuous 500-year history of Protestantism

Book Review: The Imagineers of War

April 3rd, 2017
Book Review: The Imagineers of War

Famed in pop culture, the unconventional geniuses of DARPA were tasked with developing the technology of the future, today. A big new book delves into the history of the Pentagon’s think-tank.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Verdi’s Requiem

March 31st, 2017

The London Symphony Orchestra has released a marvelous, exhilarating liver performance of Verdi’s Requiem, one only slightly let down by its recording methods.

Book Review: Martin Luther, Renegade and Prophet

March 30th, 2017
Book Review: Martin Luther, Renegade and Prophet

A smart and rewarding new biography seeks to portray the very human man underneath the multilayered legend of Martin Luther.

Book Review: Fallen Glory

March 29th, 2017

A lavishly-produced new book details humanity’s long love-hate relationship with some of its most famous and iconic buildings.

Book Review: A History of Ancient Egypt from the Great Pyramid to the Fall of the Middle Kingdom

March 27th, 2017

The author’s multi-volume history of Ancient Egypt now reaches the high points of that culture’s power and refinement.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Bach Trios

March 24th, 2017

It’s hard to evaluate an album of Bach for trio, including Yo-Yo Ma, that is so expertly played yet so flagrantly inoffensive.

Book Review: Carnivore Minds

March 24th, 2017
carnivore minds

Sharks, bears, rattlesnakes … these and other infamous apex carnivores long considered mindless killing machines are given a fresh and nuanced re-examination in G. A. Bradshaw’s new book.

Book Review: The New Neotropical Companion

March 22nd, 2017
white-nosed coati

A classic nature guide gets an elaborate, beautiful update.

Bob Silvers

March 20th, 2017

Bob Silvers

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Das Lied von der Erde

March 17th, 2017

A new recording of Mahler’s vocal masterpiece is made with the best of intentions but has imperfect results.

Book Review: Swimmer Among the Stars

March 16th, 2017

Islands of bright, fable-spinning whimsy dot the debut collection of Kanishk Tharoor

Book Review: The Weight of This World

March 15th, 2017
david joy

The sudden death of their drug dealer sends two backwoods friends into a spiral of greed and violence in the new novel from David Joy.

Book Review: Spaceman of Bohemia

March 14th, 2017
jaroslave kalfar

A lone Czech astronaut on a deep-space mission confronts his past and his fears in this taut, memorable debut novel

Book Review: In This Grave Hour

March 13th, 2017
in this grave

Even the declaration of war with Germany doesn’t stop mysteries from arriving at the doorstep of the indefatigable Maisie Dobbs.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Hanns Eisler

March 10th, 2017

A beautifully played album illuminates the expressive film scores of the unjustly overlooked Hanns Eisler.

Book Review: Sex and the Constitution

March 9th, 2017
sex and the consitution

A richly rewarding new book narrates the long and complicated history of the American quest for – and fight against – life, liberty, and the pursuit of sex.

Book Review: A Rabble of Dead Money

March 7th, 2017
rabble of dead money

Long before the Great Recession shook the modern world to its financial foundations, there was the Great Depression, the subject of a gripping new history.

Book Review: Cnut the Great

March 6th, 2017
Book Review: Cnut the Great

A taut, gripping new biography presents the life of the great warlord-monarch King Cnut

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Nadia Boulanger

March 3rd, 2017

Nadia Boulanger deferred to the music of her short-lived sister Lily and barely spoke of herself as a composer. Two releases, newly landed, may help to adjust that misperception.

Book Review: Clement Attlee

March 3rd, 2017
citizen clem

A boisterous new biography re-examines the life and legacy of the enigmatic British Prime Minister and Labor leader Clement Attlee

Book Review: The Gulf

March 2nd, 2017
the gulf

The whole sweep of the Gulf of Mexico’s nature and history is the subject of a fascinating and passionate new book.

Book Review: Gunmetal Gray

March 1st, 2017

In the latest “Gray Man” novel, Mark Greaney’s tough-as-nails title character is on the hunt in Southeast Asia for a vanished Chinese super-hacker.

Book Review: Stalin and the Scientists

February 27th, 2017
staline and

The Soviet Union billed itself as a scientific utopia, and yet, as a tremendously readable new history illustrates, the awkward of marriage of state and science gave rise to a parade of absurdities.

Normal Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Tishchenko’s 8th

February 24th, 2017

Try as I might, I can’t stop listening to these late works of a Russian composer who was close to Shostakovich but never tried, as others did, to imitate him.

Book Review: The Inkblots

February 23rd, 2017
the inkblots

You’ve all seen the famous Rorschach inkblots; a fantastic new book tells the story not only of the inkblots but also of the odd, fascinating man behind them.

Book Review: Homo Deus

February 20th, 2017
homo deus

The author of the popular-science hit Sapiens returns with a book that looks not to humanity’s distant past but rather to its immediate future.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Hungarian Treasures

February 17th, 2017

The unique selling point of this release is what appears to be the first recording of Bartok’s piano quartet in C minor. Unfortunately, it’s not very good.

Book Review: The President Will See You Now

February 15th, 2017
the president will see you now

A warm, engaging memoir takes readers inside the post-presidency years of Ronald Reagan

Book Review: Presidents’ Secrets

February 14th, 2017
presidents secrets cover

A concise, hard-hitting new book outlines the long history of secrecy at the heart of US government

Book Review: Plotting to Kill the President

February 13th, 2017
plotting to kill the president

A new history by the author of Hunting the President uncovers the long history of US presidential assassination attempts

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Kapralova piano music

February 10th, 2017

Vitezslava Kapralova was a pioneering conductor as well as a developing composer, but she died when she was only 25 years old. A disc of her piano music suggests just how much was lost when she passed away.

Book Review: Powers of Darkness

February 9th, 2017
powers of darkness

As a revelatory new version shows, the original Icelandic translation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula took more than a few liberties with the text …

Book Review: The House of Truth

February 6th, 2017
the house of truth

A wide-ranging and deeply-researched new book chronicles the history of an influential Washington political salon

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Renée Fleming’s Distant Light

February 3rd, 2017
Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Renée Fleming’s Distant Light

Renée Fleming is ending her stage career. Let’s hope this album, which plays to all her weaknesses, isn’t the end of her recording career.

Book Review: Hardwick Hall

February 2nd, 2017
hhall stairs

The great old fortress of good taste, Hardwick Hall, is the focus of a beautiful new anthology of essays on the place’s storied art and architecture

Book Review: William the Conqueror

February 1st, 2017
william the conqueror

The latest volume in the Yale English Monarchs series is a hefty new biography of the man who started the whole series in the first place: William the Conqueror

Book Review: Montaigne

January 30th, 2017

An English-language translation of a monumental biography of the founder of modern essay form urges readers to remember the man, not the legend.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Bernstein Symphonies

January 27th, 2017

Leonard Bernstein’s symphonies have long been neglected in favor of his popular work, but Marin Alsop breathes new life into them by surpassing the composer himself.

Book Review: Secrets of Churchill’s War Rooms

January 25th, 2017
war room

Down below the sidewalks of London, a warren of secret rooms housed the war effort while bombs were falling on the city; a lavish new book tours the war rooms.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Weinberg Chamber Symphonies

January 20th, 2017

Formerly unknown, Mieczylaw Weinberg stature as a composer is growing–deservedly so, as these chamber symphonies attest.

Book Review: Three Days in January

January 19th, 2017
three days in january

As a new book about Eisenhower and Kennedy makes clear, transitions of presidential power, especially between rival parties, have always been testy.

Book Review: The House of the Dead

January 18th, 2017
the house of the dead

Long before the Soviet gulag, Russian dissidents, criminals, and political exiles were sent to the vast frozen wasteland of Siberia. A grim new book tells their stories.

Book Review: The Egyptians

January 16th, 2017
Book Review: The Egyptians

The Egyptian Revolution and its cataclysmic aftermath forms the subject of a riveting new book by a journalist and keen-eyed witness.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Shostakovich concertos

January 13th, 2017

Despite how they’re often played, Shostakovich’s piano concertos weren’t intended for virtuoso performers. Boris Giltburg tries an originalist approach.

Book Review: Falling Ill

January 13th, 2017

From the late and much-honored poet CK Williams, one final work

Book Review: Making Faces

January 12th, 2017
making faces

The quintessential human feature – the large, expressive face – gets a thorough and fascinating scientific examination.

Book Review: The Lost Journalism of Ring Lardner

January 10th, 2017

The famed writer of “You Know Me Al” was also a life-long prolific deadline writer. An invaluable new book collects the journalism of Ring Lardner.

Book Review: John Singer Sargent – Figures and Landscapes

January 9th, 2017

The magnificent catalogue from Yale University Press of the paintings and drawing of John Singer Sargent comes to its conclusion with volume IX

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Guglielmo Ratcliff

January 6th, 2017

The release of a long-forgotten opera proves, finally, that Pietro Mascagni was not a one hit wonder.

Graphic Novel Review: Son of Superman

January 4th, 2017

In the first story-arc in the newest era of the ultimate comic-book hero, a deadly enemy threatens the young son of Superman

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Pictures of America

December 31st, 2016

What would Natalie Dessay find in a collection of American songs that others have not found before?

Book Review: True Faith and Allegiance

December 29th, 2016
mark greaney

A Canadian businessman is more than he seems in the latest big addition to the Tom Clancy fictional universe

Book Review: If Our Bodies Could Talk

December 22nd, 2016
if our bodies could talk

A handy new books ranges over the whole breadth of human aches and pains and losses and gains – and provides the science behind it all.

Book Review: Tracking Gobi Grizzlies

December 21st, 2016
tracking gobi grizzlies

The world’s most endangered population of grizzly bears is the subject of a powerful, haunting new book

Book Review: I Contain Multitudes

December 21st, 2016
Book Review: I Contain Multitudes

If who we are includes the multitudes of microscopic organisms that we house and feed, which in turn help regulate our immunity and sculpt our destinies, then what constitutes the individual?

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Bach complete keyboard works

December 16th, 2016

Amid the seasonal rock fall of weird-shaped box sets and unopenable recorded turkeys, one project stands out as indispensable in both musical and moral dimensions.

Book Review: The Pursuit of Power

December 14th, 2016
the pursuit of power

A master historian analyzes the tumultuous century that gave rise to the modern era

Shirley Hazzard

December 13th, 2016
shirley hazzard

Shirley Hazzard

Book Review: Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy

December 12th, 2016
Book Review: Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy

Poor Simon Lewis has been a human, and he’s been a vampire – and now he’s a student at the forbidding Shadowhunter Academy, in the latest chapter of Cassandra Clare’s ongoing YA fantasy series

Norman Lebrecht’s Alternative Record of the Year

December 9th, 2016
Norman Lebrecht’s Alternative Record of the Year

Most critics pick their album of the year from the ones they reviewed over the past 52 weeks. I’ve decided to choose from the ones I haven’t, the ones that for one reason or other failed to make the weekly cut

Book Review: The Good Occupation

December 8th, 2016

For the thousands of US and Allied troops who were ordered to remain behind and help rebuilt countries the Allies had just defeated, their war was extended and altered. A new book dissects the on-the-ground realities attending the aftermath of conquest.

Book Review: The Man with the Poison Gun

December 5th, 2016

The gripping true story of celebrated KGB assassin – and defector.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Henselt piano works

December 2nd, 2016

Adolph von Henselt was a follower of fashion, not a leader of trends, but as Daniel Grimwoods latest release shows, he is nonetheless very much worth a listen.

Book Review: Rasputin

December 1st, 2016

The mesmerizing lunatic who grafted himself onto the Romanov dynasty in its final decades gets a highly detailed new biography.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Encores after Beethoven

November 30th, 2016

If you thought of encores as sweetmeats, Andras Schiff’s album of encores given during a Beethoven cycle will redefine the genre.

Book Review: Brothers at Arms

November 29th, 2016

An invigorating new history looks at the American Revolution from a wide-angle international view

Book Review: Crane Pond

November 25th, 2016

A smart and gripping new novel brings the Salem Witch mania to life.

Book Review: The First Victory

November 24th, 2016

The tough and bitter East Africa campaign of 1941 receives a comprehensive new history.

William Trevor

November 21st, 2016

William Trevor

Book Review: The Vanquished

November 21st, 2016

A thought-provoking new history shines a spotlight on the long and brutal aftermath of the First World War

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Elgar and Martinu cello concertos

November 18th, 2016

Sol Gabetta authors a splendidly distinctive interpretation of Elgar’s famous cello concerto, and pairs it with an underappreciated work in the genre by Martinu.

Book Review: Fifty English Steeples

November 15th, 2016

That familiar glory of medieval English architecture -the church spire – is the subject of a stunning new book.

Book Review: Egyptomania

November 14th, 2016

A new book chronicles the world’s enduring fascination with Ancient Egypt

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Shostakovich plays Shostakovich

November 11th, 2016

The people Shostakovich played with were the elite of Russian music. A treasure trove of archive finds reveals the music they made together.

Book Review: Scarlet Experiment

November 7th, 2016

Can birds – any species of bird, anywhere in the United States – survive their contact with humanity? A new book looks at the science and the sobering numbers.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the week – vocal works by Schoenberg & Shostakovich

November 4th, 2016
Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the week – vocal works by Schoenberg & Shostakovich

Two composers in despair composed these works for voice and piano, which contain some of the darkest moments known to music. How do they sound with a full orchestra?

Book Review: Herbert Hoover

November 4th, 2016

Depression-era US President Herbert Hoover has always been easy to malign – a new biography argues that he’s just as easy to underestimate

Book Review: Charlemagne

October 31st, 2016

The larger-than-life medieval Frankish king Charlemagne is the subject of a definitive single-volume biography now translated into English

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week: Kurtág string quartets

October 28th, 2016
Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week: Kurtág string quartets

Away from the imprisonment of a concert hall, György Kurtág’s string quartets create an ambience akin to Gregorian chant: it’s the perfect chillout music.

Book Review: Turner

October 24th, 2016

A sumptuous new biography of the man behind the Turner legend

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Tchaikovsky

October 21st, 2016

The benchmarks for Tchaikovsky’s sixth symphony are mono in both uses of the term, aural and chromatic. How does a modern release hold up?

Book Review: Black Elk

October 19th, 2016

The Sioux medicine man and centerpiece of “Black Elk Speaks” is the subject of a comprehensive new biography

Book Review: Karl Marx: Greatness and Illusion

October 18th, 2016

A big new biography attempts to get at the flesh-and-blood man behind the problematic theory of Marxism

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week: French Suites

October 14th, 2016
Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week: French Suites

After playing all his life for Columbia Masterworks, Murray Perahia has released his first recording for Deutsche Grammophon, a luminous recording of Bach’s French Suites.

Book Review: Something in the Blood

October 12th, 2016

A big, generous new biography of the man who created Dracula

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Schoenberg: Gurre-Lieder

October 7th, 2016

It is so rare to hear the Gurre Lieder live that most of us are acquainted with it only on record. A new concert recording of this liminal composition aims to join the pantheon.

Book Review: Britain’s War, 1937-1941: Into Battle

October 7th, 2016

A lively new history of the years England fought alone against the might of Nazi Germany

Book Review: Vanity Fair’s Writers on Writers

October 4th, 2016

The editors of Vanity Fair magazine delve into their century of writing to serve up dozens of their best writers writing about other writers.

Book Review: Northmen

October 3rd, 2016

A gripping new history tells the broader story of the Viking Era

Book Review: Eyes on the Street

October 1st, 2016

A lively new biography tells the story of iconic urban visionary and outspoken cultural critic Jane Jacobs.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Pretty Yende

September 30th, 2016

It is now seven years since the South African soprano Pretty Yende burst on our ears as winner of the 2009 Hans Gabor competition in Vienna. That omission has now, finally, been repaired.

Book Review: Tamil

September 27th, 2016

A dense yet lyrical new book tells the long, intricate life story of the Tamil language and Tamil literature

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Lang Lang: New York Rhapsody

September 23rd, 2016

A bizarre “crossover” album combines pop songs, fragments of Andrew Copland, Gershwin, and a dual performance by Lang Lang and Herbie Hancock. So how New York is this album?

Book Review: The Playful Little Dog

September 22nd, 2016

Penguin Random House continues its re-issue series of classic little children’s books.

Book Review: Lusitania – The Cultural History of a Catastrophe

September 22nd, 2016

Just over a century ago, the luxury liner Lusitania was sunk by a German U-boat with great loss of life, a disaster that, as a new book explains, re-shaped the world.

Book Review: Looking For Betty MacDonald

September 19th, 2016

The beloved author of “The Egg and I” receives her first full-length biography

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Prokofiev Violin Concertos

September 16th, 2016

Prokofiev’s violin concertos, one anarchic, one written under duress to please Stalin, anchor an intriguing new release from Vadim Gluzman and Neeme Järvi.

Book Review: Cocteau – A Life

September 15th, 2016

The multi-faceted artist and director Jean Cocteau is the subject of a mammoth biography, newly translated into English

Book Review: Selling Hitler

September 15th, 2016

A brilliant new study anatomizes the mechanisms of Nazi propaganda

Book Review: Deepwater Horizon

September 13th, 2016

The explosion, fire, sinking, and oil spill of the Deepwater Horizon back in 2010 gets a definitive scholarly analysis.

Book Review: If Venice Dies

September 12th, 2016

The tourist magnet of Venice faces an uncertain future on many fronts – but Salvatore Settis has many possible solutions in mind …

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat

September 9th, 2016

Michael Nyman’s rare and underappreciated chamber opera, based on a book by Oliver Sacks, finally gets a rare new recording.

Book Review: Where Song Began

September 8th, 2016

The overflowing diversity of Australian bird life is the subject of Tim Low’s captivating new book

Book Review: Why Birds Matter

September 8th, 2016

Who can measure the worth of a nightingale’s song? Why scientists can, you silly thing!

Book Review: Red Right Hand

September 5th, 2016
red right hand

A young woman’s life is turned upside-down when she encounters a strange man with a molten red hand.

Book Review: Red Right Hand

September 5th, 2016
nexus strikes

The hitman who kills hitmen is contracted by a semi-rogue FBI agent to take on a particularly delicate – and dangerous – side-mission

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Ustvolskaya, Silverstrov, Kancheli

September 2nd, 2016

The late Soviet system created damaging monopolies in the arts as much as they did in state industry. The three lesser-known composers in this intriguing album each tackled the hegemony from a different aspect.

Book Review: ADHD Nation

August 31st, 2016
adhd nation

A hard-hitting new book exposes the widespread misdiagnosis of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Book Review: August 1914

August 29th, 2016
august 1914

Before the famous epic battles of the First World War, there were lesser-known but equally ferocious clashes that are often lost in the larger narrative. A short, powerful book seeks to redress that imbalance.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Elgar Remastered

August 26th, 2016

The last decade and a half of Elgar’s musical life was focused on leaving a legacy in the form of composer-approved recordings. A remastered 4-CD set collects the brilliant results.

Book Review: The World of Poldark

August 25th, 2016
Book Review: The World of Poldark

The companion book to the 2015 production of “Poldark” turns out to be more than just a pretty face

Book Review: Angelinetum and Other Poems

August 24th, 2016

Doctor and poet Giovanni Marrasio’s verses receive an expert new edition from the Harvard’s I Tatti Library series

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Martinu’s Ariane

August 19th, 2016

I am beginning to wonder if posterity will ever place Bohuslav Martinu where he justly belongs, as one who’s sound world is at once distinctive and entirely approachable, the mark of a great composer.

Book Review: America’s Snake

August 19th, 2016

Snake expert Ted Levin argues in his captivating new book that the American rattlesnake is as misunderstood as it is miraculous.

Book Review: The Accidental Life

August 15th, 2016
accidental life

Veteran editor Terry McDonell writes a ribald memoir that’s half storytelling and half tips of the trade

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Schubert Leider

August 12th, 2016

It’s always a good sign when a pianist is named as the editorial force behind a lieder recital, giving the enterprise both objective distance and intellectual rigour, as it does in these Schubert leider.

Book Review: The Fifty-Year Mission

August 11th, 2016
star trek lives

On the occasion of its 50th anniversary, Star Trek gets a definitive oral history.

Book Review: Marked for Death

August 10th, 2016
marked for death

A gritty and gripping new history tells the story of the dawn of aerial warfare.

Book Review: The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko

August 9th, 2016
vasily stepanov

A crippled young man in a forgotten hospital has armored himself against the rotten hand he’s drawn in life – until he falls in love with a new patient.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Bruno Walter chamber music

August 5th, 2016
Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Bruno Walter chamber music

Like many other conductors, Bruno Walter tried his hand at composing. He was a famously reserved person, but does his music give anything away?

Book Review: Ghost Talkers

August 4th, 2016

The heroine of Mary Robinette Kowal’s enchanting new novel is doing her part for the WWI war effort – by debriefing the spirits of soldiers killed on the battlefield

Book Review: The Nix

August 4th, 2016
the nix

The life of the main character in Nathan Hill’s stunning debut novel is turned upside-down when the madwoman on the nightly news turns out to be his mother.

Book Review: Dawn of the Dog

August 4th, 2016
dawn of the dog

A new book takes a revisionist look at the evolutionary history of the dog.

Book Review: The Story of Egypt

August 3rd, 2016
Book Review: The Story of Egypt

A new book tells the history of ancient Egypt, from the mists of pre-history to the familiar tale of Cleopatra

Book Review: The Year’s Best Science Fiction

August 1st, 2016
year’s best sf 16

The latest entry in the epic “Year’s Best Science Fiction” series by editor Gardner Dozois features everything from Venusian monsters to telepathic food – with stops along the way for planetary warfare, quantum piracy, and the end of the world as we know it.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Sibelius Symphonies

July 30th, 2016

The Minnesota Orchestra’s partnership with the Finnish conductor Osmo Vänskä is a treasure of our times, especially when they play music of the frozen north.

Book Review: The Castle of Kings

July 28th, 2016
the castle of kings

A strong-willed young woman and a visionary young man navigate a 16th-century Germany in chaos in order to find their destiny

Book Review: Pound for Pound

July 27th, 2016

An emotionally and physically damaged young woman finds healing by helping some of the most unlucky dogs on Earth in Shannon Kopp’s touching new book

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – F.X. Mozart & Clementi piano concertos

July 22nd, 2016
Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – F.X. Mozart & Clementi piano concertos

They’re not great (in fact they’re often mild and unoriginal), but the concertos of Muzio Clementi and Mozart’s son, Frances Xaver, are nonetheless worth your time.

Book Review: Frederick Barbarossa

July 20th, 2016
frederick barbarossa

The legendary life of the great Frederick Barbarossa is grounded in facts and records in a deeply impressive new biography

Book Review: Franz Liszt

July 18th, 2016

A new single-volume biography captures the oversized life of legendary composer and pianist Franz Liszt

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Polish Violin Concertos

July 16th, 2016
Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Polish Violin Concertos

There used to be a truth, universally acknowledged across the record industry, that you could put out unfamiliar music with a famous artist or popular music with an unheralded performer but never attempt what Donald Rumsfeld might have called the unknown unknowns.

Book Review: Legible Religion

July 16th, 2016
l religion

How do you manage to have religion without scripture? As a fascinating new book demonstrates, inn this as in so many other seemingly impossible paradoxes, the ancient Romans found a way.

Book Review: Hitler’s Compromises

July 11th, 2016
hitler’s compromises

A brilliant new book explores the alternatives to brute force the Nazi regime often employed to get its way

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Songs without Words

July 8th, 2016

They may grate in other instances, but period instruments are well suited to Mendelssohn’s Songs without Words, as this new recording demonstrates.

Book Review: Hitler’s Soldiers

July 6th, 2016
hitler’s soldiers

A big new history of the German Army during World War II takes a complex and multifaceted look at the men who fought for the Reich

Book Review: The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam

July 5th, 2016

A new dual biography of poet and translator accompanies a new illustrated edition of the famous Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Glazunov and Khachaturian violin concertos

July 1st, 2016
Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Glazunov and Khachaturian violin concertos

Tchaikovsky’s violin concerto towers over all other Russian efforts in the genre, but these two by Glazunov and Khachaturian deserve a wider audience.

Book Review: Russia’s Path Toward Enlightenment

July 1st, 2016
russia’s path

Long before Peter the Great and Catherine the Great, Russian thinkers and writers were haltingly, passionately fashioning their own peculiar brand of Enlightment

Book Review: Melville in Love

June 27th, 2016
melville in love

Did an unconventional Berkshires beauty provide the inspiration for Herman Melville to write his great masterpiece? A new book thinks it would be lovely to think so.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Lucas Debargue

June 24th, 2016
Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Lucas Debargue

In an era replete with talented young competition winners, Lucas Debargue, who placed fourth in the 2015 Tchaikovsky Competition, stands out.

Book Review: Louis XVI

June 23rd, 2016

The glittering Bourbon king who lost his head to the Revolution gets a sumptuous newly-expanded biography

Book Review: Toward Democracy

June 22nd, 2016
toward dem

The long and constantly-unfinished process of democracy is given a sprawling examination in James Kloppenberg’s new book.

Book Review: The Cavendon Luck

June 19th, 2016
thecavendon luck

The Second World War closes in on the two families bravely struggling to keep Cavendon Hall alive.

Book Review: Commander in Chief

June 18th, 2016
commander in chief

In 1943, American President Franklin Roosevelt faced the strong-willed rivalry of his own nominal ally, Winston Churchill

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Shostakovich chamber music

June 17th, 2016

These three Shostakovich chamber works span the composer’s whole career, and together they constitute a musical self-portrait with few equals.

Book Review: MacArthur at War

June 13th, 2016
macarthur at war

The mercurial, often infuriating Pacific Theater commander Douglas MacArthur is the subject of Walter Borneman’s terrific new book

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – All you need is Bach

June 10th, 2016

Cameron Carpenter is virtuosic, effervescent, totally in command of his pipes and sometimes quirky enough to make you rethink the piece from core principles. But does that approach work in Bach?

Book Review: The Bitter Taste of Victory

June 10th, 2016
the bitter taste of victory

Lara Feigel’s new book delves into the landscape of the apocalypse: Germany in the immediate wake of Allied victory.

Book Review: In Gratitude

June 7th, 2016
in gratitude

Novelist and essayist Jenny Diski faithfully chronicled her own dying from cancer. A new book collects her last and greatest literary work.

Book Review: Anatomy of Malice

June 5th, 2016
anatomy of malice

A gripping new book looks at a quartet of the worst Nazi war criminals to stand trial.

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – piano pieces by Feldman and Crumb

June 3rd, 2016
Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – piano pieces by Feldman and Crumb

Steven Osborne takes on unexpected repertoire: the ascetic Morton Feldman and the extreme George Crumb.

Book Review: The Gene

June 3rd, 2016
the gene

A generous new book describes the history – and the momentous potential – of genetic research

Book Review: The Summer Dragon

June 1st, 2016
the summer dragon

In fantasy illustrator Todd Lockwood’s debut novel, a young woman from a family of dragon-breeders faces an ancient evil

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Anonymous Concertos

May 27th, 2016
Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Anonymous Concertos

These six early-classical concertos are close to the best music of their time and yet the composers of these six concertos are unknown.

Book Review: Bach’s Major Vocal Works

May 27th, 2016
bach’s major vocal works

Some of Johann Sebastian Bach’s most glorious music is also some of the most intimidating to modern audiences; a new book introduces readers to the masses and oratorios of the master.

Book Review: The Risen

May 26th, 2016
the risen

The familiar story of the Spartacus rebellion gets a lavish new telling

Book Review: The Next Pandemic

May 25th, 2016
the next pandemic

A lively account of life on the front lines in the fight against the world’s worst diseases.

In Paperback: Manhattan Night

May 24th, 2016
manhattan nocturne

A terrific ten-year-old noir novel is given a new paperback edition on the occasion of its translation to the Hollywood screen.

Book Review: Otto Binder

May 23rd, 2016
otto binder

He helped to create some of the staple characters of the comic book world, and yet he’s unknown outside the industry. A spirited biography tells the story of Otto Binder.

Book Review: The Loney

May 22nd, 2016

A violent, desolate stretch of the English coastline forms the setting for Andrew Michael Hurley’s much-heralded debut novel

An Interview with Whit Stillman

May 21st, 2016

Locke Peterseim talks with Whit Stillman, director of the critically acclaimed new Jane Austen movie “Love & Friendship”

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week: Vaughan Williams Symphonies

May 20th, 2016
Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week: Vaughan Williams Symphonies

Vaughn Williams’ symphonies are too little played, and too rarely played well. The first disc of an exciting new cycle aims to change that.

Book Review: The Summer Guest

May 18th, 2016
the summer guest

A young woman’s diary of her friendship with Anton Chekhov raises the tantalizing possibility of a long-lost work by the master.

Book Review: Ice Station Nautilus

May 17th, 2016
ice station nautilus

Rick Campbell’s new novel features a fight to the death deep under the Arctic ice

Absent Friends: Darwyn Cooke

May 17th, 2016

Editor Zach Rabiroff revisits the great masterpiece of the late Darwyn Cooke

Book Review: The Fireman

May 15th, 2016
the fireman

In Joe Hill’s new novel, a plague of spontaneous combustion is sweeping the world …

Darwyn Cooke

May 14th, 2016

Darwyn Cooke

Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Haydn: Violin Concertos

May 13th, 2016
Norman Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Haydn: Violin Concertos

A new release of an old recording prompts the question: Why are orchestra chiefs still afraid of Joseph Haydn?