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Monday, Dec. 13, 2010

Entertaining history about the Mississippi running wild

“It was as though they were all walking around in a perpetual state of rage.” No, we are not talking about 21st-century Tea Party activists here, but everyday society in the lower Mississippi River Valley in the early 19th century, as marvelously captured by Lee Sandlin’s Wicked River: The Mississippi When It...
Monday, Nov. 15, 2010

Pulitzer Prize-winning Edmund Morris completes three-volume biography

Theodore Roosevelt, the columnist Walter Lippmann wrote, was the only president in American history “who could truthfully be described as lovable.” He was our nation’s 26th president, there have been 18 more since then, and Lippmann’s statement still holds true...
Monday, Oct. 25, 2010

Michael Perino examines ‘Pecora’s Investigation of the Great Crash’

What is it they say? That history repeats itself, or that those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it? Doesn’t matter. There is plenty of support for both statements in Michael Perino’s admirable study, The Hellhound of Wall Street: How Ferdinand Pecora’s Investigation of the Great...
Monday, Sept. 20, 2010

Mark Feldstein examines relationship between White House and the press

When Richard Nixon declared to a gathering of editors in 1973, “I am not a crook,” he was wrong. He was a crook, and columnist Jack Anderson did more than anyone to expose his manifold crookedness. Anderson, meanwhile, was the Rodney Dangerfield of journalists. Even worse, actually...
Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2010

‘Banana Republican’ expands on life, times of Tom Buchanan

George MacDonald Fraser plucked Harry Flashman, a cad and bully in Thomas Hughes’ Victorian novel Tom Brown’s Schooldays, and turned him into the cynical anti-hero of a series of 12 consistently entertaining Flashman historical novels. Similarly, Eric Rauchway has taken Tom Buchanan, equally...
Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Nathan Ward on Malcolm Johnson’s classic exposé

People who hate newspapers, whose number appears to be legion, choose to forget that newspapers often have been the catalyst for useful, needed reform in American life. Instances of such newspaper-induced reform, while not similarly legion, have been many, but few have been as influential as the reporting...
Monday, June 7, 2010

Best book yet from master of World War II novels

Alan Furst has been writing novels about World War II for almost four times as long as the war lasted. Beginning with Night Soldiers in 1988, he has written 11 excellent espionage novels set during the war and the years leading up to it. Long may he prosper. There may be no more sincere praise than to say that a writer...
Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Haunting of Shirley Jackson

In the best ghost stories, often the real haunted entity is not a place or an object, but the central character—haunted, that is, by the character’s psyche. Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House is one of the best. The Haunting is one of two novels included in a new collection, Shirley Jackson: Novels and Stories...
Monday, April 5, 2010

Simon Winder’s take on all things Germania

In the publisher’s advance catalog, the title of Simon Winder’s book is listed as Save Yourselves! The Gnome Has Gone Crazy! A Personal History of the Germans. At some point someone presumably thought better of it, for it has been published as Germania: In Wayward Pursuit of the Germans...
Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Jason Vuic details rise and fall of the Yugo

It was the little car that couldn’t, and the most enjoyable part of Jason Vuic’s book, The Yugo: The Rise and Fall of the Worst Car in History (Hill & Wang), is the jokes that were made about it: Q: What’s the difference between a Yugo and a golf ball? A: You can drive a golf ball 200...

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