War, Islam, & Evangelicals | Barbara’s Nonfiction Picks, Apr. 2017, Pt. 2

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Bellaigue, Christopher de. The Islamic Enlightenment: The Struggle Between Faith and Reason, 1798 to Modern Times. Liveright: Norton. Apr. 2017. 560p. ISBN 9780871403735. $35. HISTORY Many Westerners see Islam as behind the times, having failed to experience Europe’s Enlightenment. But Bellaigue, an authority on Islam and the Middle East who speaks Turkish, Persian, and Arabic […]

Four Key Biographies | Nonfiction Previews, Apr. 2017, Pt. 2

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Rosnay, Tatiana de. Manderley Forever. St. Martin’s. Apr. 2017. 352p. tr. from French by Sam Taylor. ISBN 9781250099136. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250099150. CD: Macmillan Audio. BIOGRAPHY “Manderley forever” has been the cri de coeur of No. 1 New York Times best-selling author de Rosnay (Sarah’s Keys) since she first read Daphne du Maurier’s twisty-misty Rebecca […]

Ancient Egypt, Chinese Aspirations, & More | History Previews, Mar. 2017, Pt. 3

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Ellsberg, Daniel. The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner. Bloomsbury. Mar. 2017. 384p. ISBN 9781608196708. $30. POLITICAL SCIENCE In 1961, when Ellsberg served as a consultant to the Department of Defense and the White House, he helped draft Secretary Robert McNamara’s plans for nuclear war. Then he leaked the Pentagon Papers, and the […]

Dangerous Reading, Dangerous Writing

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Israeli author Dorit Rabinyan’s half-dozen literary honors range from the Wiener Award to the Bernstein Prize, given to her latest novel, All the Rivers (Random. Mar. 2017. 256p. ISBN 9780375508295. $27; ebk. ISBN 9781588361868. Downloadable: Random Audio). It was highly praised when it was first published in Israel, but when a group of teachers asked […]

Hot-Button Issues | Nonfiction Previews, Mar. 2017, Pt. 1

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Alter, Adam. Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked. Penguin Pr. Mar. 2017. 368p. ISBN 9781594206641. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780698402638. Downloadable: Penguin Audio. PSYCHOLOGY/SOCIAL MEDIA The newest addiction? It’s not to a substance but to a behavior, argues New York University professor Alter, author of the New York Times […]

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 […]