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 […]

Benjamin Black, Elena Ferrante, Pulitzer Prize Winner Lowery, George Mitchell | Barbara’s Picks, Nov. 2016, Pt. 3

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Black, Benjamin. Golden Lane. Holt. Nov. 2016. 320p. ISBN 9781627795173. $28; ebk. ISBN 9781627795180. CD: Macmillan Audio. MYSTERY/HISTORICAL John Banville writes impeccable literary works like the Man Booker Prize–winning The Sea, while as Benjamin Black he writes impeccable crime novels starring Dublin-based pathologist Quirke. Here he assumes his Black persona but travels back to 1599 […]

Last of the Christmas Novels 2016 | Fiction Previews, Nov. 2016, Pt. 2

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Dickens, Charles. A Christmas Carol: The Original Manuscript Edition. Norton. Nov. 2016. 160p. ISBN 9780393608649. $21.95. FICTION/CLASSICS Each holiday season, Manhattan’s famed Morgan Library & Museum displays one of its most important documents: the original manuscript of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, with corrections, deletions, and insertions all in Dickens’s own hand. Since I can […]

Michael Chabon, Alice Hoffman, Zadie Smith, John Edgar Wideman | Barbara’s Picks, Nov. 2016, Pt. 1

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Chabon, Michael. Moonglow. Harper. Nov. 2016. 432p. ISBN 9780062225559. $28.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062225573. CD: HarperAudio. lrg. prnt. LITERARY FICTION Framed as a man’s deathbed confession to his grandson, capturing the seesawing intensity of the American century, ranging from South Philadelphia’s Jewish slums and the invasion of Germany to New York’s Wallkill Prison and a Florida […]

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 […]

Visiting Florida with Barry, the Internet with Levitin, & the Marches with Stewart | Nonfiction Previews, Sept. 2016, Pt. 4

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Alexander, Jane. Wild Things, Wild Places: Adventurous Tales of Wildlife and Conservation on Planet Earth. Knopf. Sept. 2016. 336p. ISBN 9780385354363. $30; ebk. ISBN 9780385354370. Downloadable: Random Audio. SCIENCE/MEMOIR A Tony Award–winning and two-time Emmy Award-winning actress, plus a four-time Academy Award nominee and former chair of the National Endowment of the Arts, Alexander is […]

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 […]

Pearl Harbor, Stalin’s Last American Spy, & More | History Previews, Sept. 2016, Pt. 3

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Clark, Lloyd. Blitzkrieg: Myth, Reality, and Hitler’s Lightning War: France 1940. Atlantic Monthly. Sept. 2016. 384p. ISBN 978-0802125132. $27. HISTORY British historian Clark (The Battle of the Tanks: Kursk, 1943) examines the German army’s swift toppling of France and the Low Countries in spring 1940, arguing that it was not inevitable—the Germans needed the element […]

Top Pop from Carriger, Harbison, Iggulden, Steel, & More | Fiction Previews, Jul. 2016, Pt. 3

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Banner, Catherine. The House at the Edge of Night. Random. Jul. 2016. 416p. ISBN 9780812998795. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780812998801. CD/downloadable: Random Audio. HISTORICAL Having published the first in a YA trilogy when she was only 15, Banner goes adult at the veteran age of 25, offering a saga starring three generations of women striving to […]

From Palestine to the Supreme Court to Diane Arbus | Barbara’s Nonfiction Picks, Jun. 2016, Pt. 4

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Ehrenreich, Ben. The Way to the Spring: Life and Death in Palestine. Penguin Pr. Jun. 2016. 448p. ISBN 9781594205903. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780698148192. CD/downloadable: Penguin Audio. POLITICAL SCIENCE A National Magazine Award winner, Ehrenreich spent time over the last three years living with several Palestinian families in the West Bank; his reporting on what he […]