Blogroll

Best of February 2015

Books

Hubert Wolf’s The Nuns of Sant’Ambrogio: The True Story of a Convent in Scandal epitomizes how history should be written for the general public. Although the PR around the book promises a look at “sex, poison, and lesbian initiation rites in a nineteenth-century convent,” this is in no way a lurid read. Sure, […]

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 […]

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 […]

Book Review: No Good Men Among the Living by Anand Gopal

Black and white thinking just doesn’t work in a gray labyrinth. That’s why America — and the Soviet Union earlier — struggled in seeking to fashion Afghanistan’s government and politics. Perhaps there should be a rule requiring Afghanistan be colored gray on any map as a warning about how gray and tangled it is. At […]

Book Review: Trapped Under the Sea by Neil Swidey

It sounds like the plot to a far-fetched disaster movie. Five men are more than nine miles into a tunnel that dead ends. All they have for light is what they brought. They’re connected umbilical like to a breathing system because otherwise they’d lose consciousness and die from lack of oxygen. Suddenly, the breathing system […]

Abstaining from best books mania

For some reason this year’s onslaught of “best of the year” lists really wore on me. As a result, I’m not going to do one of those posts for 2013. Instead, I will note that, based on books listed in both of two different compilations of this year’s book lists, it’s again clear I am […]