Building Better Bodies, Protecting Data, & More | Nonfiction Previews, Feb. 2017, Pt. 4

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Buting, Jerome F. Illusion of Justice: Inside Making a Murderer and America’s Broken System. Harper. Feb. 2017. 352p. ISBN 9780062569318. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062569332. TRUE CRIME The criminal defense lawyer for Steven Avery in the Teresa Halbach murder trial, chronicled in the headlines-making Netflix original documentary series, Making a Murderer, Buting uses that case and […]

Laird Hunt, Yiyun Lee, & More | Barbara’s Picks, Feb. 2017, Pt. 3

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Dennett, Daniel C. From Bacteria to Bach and Back: The Evolution of Minds. Norton. Feb. 2017. 448p. ISBN 9780393242072. $28.95. PHILOSOPHY/MIND & BODY Austin B. Fletcher Professor of Philosophy at Tufts University and winner of the Erasmus Prize, Dennett knows how to talk to lay readers; he’s published numerous books, not just with academic presses […]

Drabble, Nguyen, & More | Barbara’s Picks, Feb. 2017, Pt. 1

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Drabble, Margaret. The Dark Flood Rises. Farrar. Feb. 2017. 336p. ISBN 9780374134952. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780374715762. LITERARY FICTION A durable author of contemporary English-language literature named a Dame of the British Empire in 2008, Drabble has plenty of life experience to bring to her portrait of graying if relentlessly busy Francesca Stubbs. Even as she […]

Rising Stars | Fiction Previews, Jan. 2017, Pt. 1

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Barkan, Josh. Mexico: Stories. Hogarth: Crown. Jan. 2017. 256p. ISBN 9781101906293. $25; ebk. ISBN 9781101906309. SHORT STORIES What do you do when a drug lord walks into your restaurant? Or when a parent walks into your classroom and threatens to kill you if his son falls for the wrong girl? These are some of the […]

Queen Victoria, Pixar, Space Travel, & More | Nonfiction Previews, Nov. 2016, Pt. 4

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Alvarez, Walter. A Most Improbable Journey: A Big History of Our Planet and Ourselves. Norton. Nov. 2016. 288p. ISBN 9780393292695. $26.95. SCIENCE/COSMOLOGY If you’re familiar with the “Impact Theory,” which blames dinosaur extinction on a crash-landed asteroid, then you’re familiar with Berkeley geologist Alvarez; he originated the idea. Here he argues that Big History, which […]

Europe 1815–1914, the Pacific War, & More | History Previews, Nov. 2016, Pt. 1

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Evans, Richard J. The Pursuit of Power: Europe 1815–1914. Viking. Nov. 2016. 928p. ISBN 9780670024575. $40; ebk. ISBN 9780735221215. HISTORY Winner of Wolfson and Fraenkel honors and twice nominated for the Los Angeles Times Book Award, Evans here sweeps through surging British imperialism, upheaval in Spain, the unification of both Germany and Italy, the decline […]

H.W. Brands, Fannie Flagg, Jonathan Lethem, Francine Prose | Barbara’s Picks, Oct. 2016, Pt. 2

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Brands, H.W. The General vs. the President: MacArthur and Truman at the Brink of Nuclear War. Doubleday. Oct. 2016. 448p. 9780385540575. $30; ebk. ISBN 9780385540582. lrg. prnt. CD/downloadable: Random Audio. HISTORY Twice a Pulitzer Prize finalist and Jack S. Blanton Sr. Chair in History at the University of Texas at Austin, Brands illuminates the relationship […]

From J.M.W. Turner to Al Capone | Biography Previews, Oct. 2016, Pt. 1

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Ackroyd, Peter. Alfred Hitchcock. Nan A. Talese: Doubleday. Oct. 2016. 288p. ISBN 9780385537414. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780385537421. Downloadable: Random Audio BIOGRAPHY An award winner in both fiction and nonfiction (e.g., he claims the Whitbread Book Award for Biography), Ackroyd here explains how a fearful, chubby little boy became the masterly and iconic director Alfred Hitchcock. […]

Literary Glitter from Kleeman, Livesey, Towles, & More | Fiction Previews, Sept. 2016, Pt. 3

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Altrad, Mohed. Badawi. Black Cat: Grove Atlantic. Sept. 2016. 256p. ISBN 9780802125798. pap. $16. LITERARY Drawing on his own life to craft this first novel, Syrian-born French billionaire Altrad relates the story of Maïouf, a Bedouin boy who resists familial pressure to become a shepherd after his mother dies, abandoned and repudiated. Instead, he sneaks […]

Jay McInerney, Eowyn Ivey, Jesmyn Ward, & More | Barbara’s Picks, Aug. 2016, Pt. 1

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Donohoe, Kathleen. Ashes of Fiery Weather. Houghton Harcourt. Aug. 2016. 416p. ISBN 9780544464056. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780544526693. LITERARY FICTION Ranging across six generations, from famine-stalked Ireland to post–9/11 New York, Donohoe’s ambitious debut offers portraits of women in the Keegan/O’Reilly clan, bound together by fire and ash. For a family of firefighters, life is fraught […]