Book Review: The Murder of Sonny Liston: Las Vegas, Heroin, and Heavyweights

The Serial podcast about Adnan Syed’s murder conviction sparked a profusion of so-called “true crime” podcasts, many focusing on unsolved murders or assessing whether particular deaths were the result of foul play. While several of those are worth listening to, The Murder of Sonny Liston displays the advantage of the written word.

The question of […]

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Book Review: He Wanted the Moon by Mimi Baird


Over the decades, the mental health memoir has become almost a genre in and of itself. That isn’t to knock them. After all, a 1908 memoir, A Mind That Found Itself, remains in print today. And more recent works about depression (William Styron’s Darkness Visible), bipolar disorder (Marya Hornbacher’s Madness: A Bipolar Life) or schizophrenia […]

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Book Review: Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America by Jill Leovy

Plague. Even today, the word retains fearsome connotations. But according to Jill Leovy, there’s been a plague in America for several decades: the murder of black males, mostly by other black males. In Los Angeles County, for example, even though black men were just six percent of the population, they accounted for 40 percent of […]

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Book Review: Dear Leader by Jang Jin-Sung

Significant cultural and, yes, racial differences gave rise to America stereotyping Asians as mysterious or inscrutable. While that shibboleth has justifiably faded over the years, we still occasionally find aspects of Asia enigmatic. But when it comes to North Korea “WTF?!” seems regularly justified. And although Jang Jin-Sung’s memoir of his life and escape from […]

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Book Review: Duel with the Devil by Paul Collins

Hamilton and Burr. Sounds like a law firm you might see advertised on television. And they were lawyers. But that’s not what really ties these two men together. They are Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. For history buffs, the names may bring to mind the ongoing political battles in the 1790s between Hamilton, the nation’s […]

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Book Review: Secret Lives of the Tsars by Michael Farquhar

As the recent July 4 holiday reminded, America isn’t fond of royalty — unless they’re showing up in the celebrity gossip. In fact, the Declaration of Independence lays out a laundry list of what King George III did to establish an “absolute tyranny” in the colonies. But he never went so far as to kick […]

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