Book Reviews

What to Read

More Reviews

  • Eleanor Marx led a revolutionary life with a tragic ending
    Eleanor Marx led a revolutionary life with a tragic ending

    The idea of Eleanor Marx is terribly attractive. Here was a young woman born in Victorian England, holding her own while living among some of the great intellectuals of her time — and ours. All those history books that depict the march of ideas and politics as the exclusive interests...

  • 'Going Into the City,' rock critic Robert Christgau's back pages
    'Going Into the City,' rock critic Robert Christgau's back pages

    If we peg the birth of rock writing to Richard Goldstein establishing his "Pop Eye" column in the Village Voice, the form turns 50 next summer. If instead we tie it to Jane Scott's Cleveland Plain Dealer report on the Beatles in September 1964, we should have been celebrating last fall.

  • Helen Macdonald's 'H Is for Hawk' swoops into the wild
    Helen Macdonald's 'H Is for Hawk' swoops into the wild

    When her beloved father died in London, Helen Macdonald slipped past grief into a melancholic depression, and as a poet, naturalist and close observer of nature and words, she identified what she felt and what she intuitively needed.

  • Paul Beatty's bruising, satirical 'Sellout' is driven by black voices
    Paul Beatty's bruising, satirical 'Sellout' is driven by black voices

    I knew when I read "The White Boy Shuffle" as a junior in college that Paul Beatty had written the book every afflicted black boy wannabe novelist dreamed of creating. Because we lived in the United States, and because we were black boys, and because we were not white boys, and because the...

  • Kids books get whimsical with lonely typewriters and wild inventions
    Kids books get whimsical with lonely typewriters and wild inventions

    In a world of "Frozen" dolls and Lego Minecraft, how can a mere book -- one without a movie tie-in -- compete for a young child’s attention?

  • Mohsin Hamid's new book takes a post-9/11 view
    Mohsin Hamid's new book takes a post-9/11 view

    Writers, Lynne Sharon Schwartz once insisted, write "anything and everything, just as a composer composes anything — not only sonatas or only nocturnes or only symphonies." And yet, it's undeniable that certain authors are better at certain things. For every George Orwell, equally adept...

  • Reif Larsen's 'I Am Radar' transmits narrative magic
    Reif Larsen's 'I Am Radar' transmits narrative magic

    The big, beautiful, ambitious novel "I Am Radar" opens as Radar Radmanovic is born during a fantastic blackout in suburban New Jersey. Although his parents are white, the baby has charcoal-black skin; doctors can find no medical explanation.

  • 'Hush Hush' speaks volumes about dark domestic impulses
    'Hush Hush' speaks volumes about dark domestic impulses

    In 1994, Susan Smith drowned her two sons by pushing them into a South Carolina lake and implicated a black man for the crime; in 2001, Andrea Yates drowned her five children in Houston; in 2005, China Arnold microwaved her infant daughter to death in Dayton, Ohio. What drove these women and...

  • 'Age of Acquiescence' examines America's second Gilded Age
    'Age of Acquiescence' examines America's second Gilded Age

    Remember Occupy Wall Street? Steve Fraser does — he opens his book on our current state of popular political paralysis by recalling the "millions of 'occupiers' in a thousand cities" who in fall 2011 chanted "We are the 99 percent." His question is not what Occupy wanted or why it...

  • 'Lucky Alan and Other Stories' is Jonathan Lethem at his bizarre best
    'Lucky Alan and Other Stories' is Jonathan Lethem at his bizarre best

    I woke this morning from a memory in which I found myself demanding a whole smoked-fish plate, with plenty of bagels, sturgeon and chopped liver too, in exchange for having sex with an acquaintance after a demoralizing threesome. The demand of fish for sex didn't sound like me. Also, I don't...

  • 'Girl in a Band' is Kim Gordon's unconventional self-creation tale
    'Girl in a Band' is Kim Gordon's unconventional self-creation tale

    Feminism never actually promised women they could have it all, but Kim Gordon seemed to nail it anyway. A founding member of the long-running experimental rock group Sonic Youth, she had the successful band, the devoted husband (her bandmate Thurston Moore), the golden family. On the side,...

  • 'A Kim Jong-Il Production' times it right, post-Sony hacking
    'A Kim Jong-Il Production' times it right, post-Sony hacking

    In publishing, as in showbiz, timing is critical. Serendipity seems to have smiled on author Paul Fischer and his new book, "A Kim Jong-Il Production: The Extraordinary True Story of a Kidnapped Filmmaker, His Star Actress and a Young Dictator's Rise to Power."

  • It's game time for the history of Monopoly
    It's game time for the history of Monopoly

    Among the many impressive feats that Mary Pilon pulls off in "The Monopolists," her fascinating history of one of the most popular and iconic American games, the most remarkable may well be that, unlike Monopoly, her book never lags.

  • Political consultant David Axelrod delivers in revealing 'Believer'
    Political consultant David Axelrod delivers in revealing 'Believer'

    As President Obama's political consultant, David Axelrod was guarded and disciplined when he appeared on the weekend talk shows. He stayed on message, with little hint of humor or personality. But the Axelrod we meet in his autobiography, "Believer," is a different creature altogether.

  • Tom McCarthy keeps protagonist and readers guessing
    Tom McCarthy keeps protagonist and readers guessing

    In his first novel since "C," nominated for the Booker Prize in 2010, Tom McCarthy continues his exploration of the search for meaning in the modern age while subverting what a novel can be with the story of a nonexistent text and how it doesn't come to be written.

  • Science may prove to be humanity's savior
    Science may prove to be humanity's savior

    If you'd been born a few thousand years ago, before the invention of the state, every decade you'd have stood a 1-in-20 chance of a violent death. Today, your skull might be on display in a museum somewhere with an arrow hole through the cranium. Fortunately those odds have decreased a...

  • 'My Avant-Garde Education': Bernard Cooper's sketches of a life in art
    'My Avant-Garde Education': Bernard Cooper's sketches of a life in art

    Bernard Cooper discovered his passion for art in — of all places — the pages of Life magazine. He was sitting in the library of his Los Angeles middle school in the mid-1960s, studiously putting off research on a geography assignment by leafing through a copy of Life, when he...

  • 'It's What I Do' a war-zone photographer's harrowing memoir
    'It's What I Do' a war-zone photographer's harrowing memoir

    It would be easy for "normal" people to conclude that journalists chronicling war and disaster are anything but.

Loading