Barbara’s Picks, Jan. 2014, Pt. 4: Elisabeth de Waal, Alan Lightman, Gary Shteyngart, & More

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  de Waal, Elisabeth. The Exiles Return. Picador. Jan. 2014. 336p. ISBN 9781250045782. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781250045799. LITERARY/HISTORICAL FICTION Like Irène Némirovsky and Hans Keilson, de Waal bore witness to the tragedy of World War II; as her grandson recounts in his best-selling The Hare with Amber Eyes, their Jewish banking family’s possessions were appropriated […]

Barbara’s Picks, Nov. 2013, Pt. 3: Fiction from Albom, Baldacci, Banks, Child/Preston, Griffith, Hammett, Lynch, Miles, & Smith

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Albom, Mitch. The First Phone Call from Heaven. Harper: HarperCollins. Nov. 2013. 272p. ISBN 9780062294371. $24.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062294395. lrg. prnt. CD: HarperAudio. POP FICTION Phones are ringing off the hook in little Coldwater, MI, but the callers are all deceased, stirring emotions from joyous relief to uncertain fear as they report being happy in […]

Nonfiction, Nov. 2013, Pt. 3: A Dozen Arts Titles, from Mozart to Norman Rockwell to the Spider-man Musical

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Berger, Glen. The Song of Spider-Man: The Inside Story of the Most Controversial Musical in Broadway History. S. & S. Nov. 2013. NAp. ISBN 9781451684568. $25; ebk. ISBN 9781451684582. MUSICALS Chosen by Julie Taymor to collaborate on the book of the Spider-man musical, Emmy Award–winning television and theater writer Berger saw the entire musical unfold […]

Barbara’s Nonfiction Picks, Nov. 2013, Pt. 2: Jung Chang, Nora Ephron, Wil S. Hylton, Richard Kurin, Ann Patchett, Claudia Roth Pierpont

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Chang, Jung. Empress Dowager Cixi: The Concubine Who Launched Modern China. Knopf. Nov. 2013. 352p. ISBN 9780307271600. $30. BIOGRAPHY First a Red Guard, then the recipient of a doctoral degree in linguistics from England’s Bristol University, then the hugely best-selling author of Wild Swans and Mao, Jung Chang has a remarkable life story. And the […]

Nonfiction Previews, Nov. 2013, Pt. 2: History & Biography, from Red Cloud to JFK to the Warsaw Uprising

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Davis, Wes. The Ariadne Objective: The Underground War To Rescue Crete from the Nazis. Crown. Nov. 2013. 304p. ISBN 9780307460134. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780307460158. HISTORY History both crucial and swashbuckling: an odd bunch of British intelligence officers (involved because they made “the obsolete choice of Greek at school”) joined with Cretan resistance fighters and an […]

Barbara’s Picks, Oct. 2013, Pt. 2: Nonfiction from Robert Dallek, Richard Dawkins, Jonathan Franzen, Daniel Lieberman, & John W. Pilley

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Dallek, Robert. Camelot’s Court: Inside the Kennedy White House. Harper: HarperCollins. Oct. 2013. 576p. ISBN 9780062065841. $32.50. lrg. prnt. HISTORY Attorney General Robert Kennedy, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, Secretary of State Dean Rusk, National Security Adviser McGeorge Bundy, and aides Ted Sorensen and Arthur Schlesinger: these were the courtiers of Camelot, the smart and […]

Fiction Previews, Sept. 2013, the Last Roundup; from Terry McMillan to Debut Novelists Allen, Crawford, Daly, & More

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Allen, Lisa Van. The Wishing Thread. Ballantine. Sept. 2013. 400p. ISBN 9780345538550. pap. $15; ebk. ISBN 9780345537829. WOMEN’S FICTION Owners of the Stitchery Yarn Shop in Tarrytown, NY, the Van Ripper women can reputedly grant wishes by stitching them into their knitted goods. But the Stitchery’s matriarch has just died, leaving a will that could […]

Nonfiction Previews, Sept. 2013, Pt. 4: Capturing the Kommandant of Auschwitz and Playing Chopin During the Revolution

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Bacon, John U. Fourth and Long: The Fight for the Soul of College Football. S. & S. Sept. 2013. 336p. ISBN 9781476706436. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9781476706443. SPORTS College football is currently beset with scandal and sanctions, so one can be forgiven for expecting this report from Bacon to be a downer. And, indeed, drawing on […]

Fiction Previews, Sept. 2013, Pt. 5: Essential Reading Beyond the Commercial Blockbusters: Baker, Horn, Perrotta, & More

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Baker, Nicholson. Traveling Sprinkler. Blue Rider: Penguin Group (USA). Sept. 2013. 288p. ISBN 9780399160967. $26.95. LITERARY Baker’s The Anthologist, in which Paul Chowder tries valiantly to get started on a collection of formal verse, won best-book nods from a half-dozen venues. This new novel again features the hapless Chowder, here eager to jump-start his life […]

Nonfiction Previews, Sept. 2013, Pt. 3: Current Events from Bacevich, Goldhagen, Barnard President Spar, & More

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Bacevich, Andrew. Breach of Trust: How Americans Failed Their Soldiers and Their Country. Metropolitan: Holt. Sept. 2013. 224p. ISBN 9780805082968. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780805096033. POLITICAL SCIENCE A Brown professor of history and international relations who served as an officer in the U.S. Army for 23 years, Bacevich argues that there is a tremendous divide between […]

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