September 27, 2010 |
The essential outline of the story journalist and political historian Bob Woodward sets out to tell in "Obama's Wars" actually is fairly well known. President Obama's agonized march to a decision on how to move forward in what he has called "a war of necessity" in Afghanistan has been widely reported and analyzed. It's well known, for example, that the lack of good options bitterly divided the president's advisors and that the chief executive immersed himself in the details of the decision that ultimately produced a modified version of the "surge" strategy that the Bush administration used to stabilize — temporarily, at least — Iraq.
September 20, 2010 |
Studded with vivid character sketches and evocative descriptions of the American landscape, journalist Judy Pasternak's scarifying account of uranium mining's disastrous consequences often reads like a novel — though you will wish that the bad guys got punished as effectively as they do in commercial fiction. Real life is complicated, and Pasternak, a veteran of 24 years with the Los Angeles Times, does justice to the historical and ethical ambiguities of her tale while crafting a narrative of exemplary clarity.
May 21, 2011 |
We're living in an age of prize proliferation. It might not feel like it — especially with so many families hit hard by economic turmoil in the last few years — but it still exists, according to Joel Best's "Everyone's a Winner," a book that looks at the ways and the reasons why our society puts so much emphasis on a pat on the back. Everyone knows that the gentleman's C of years ago has become the B-plus or A-minus of today. Averages higher than 4.0 are commonplace in high schools and, at graduation time, many schools crown not one but multiple valedictorians.
November 13, 2010 |
The first Stephen King book I ever read was "Different Seasons," a set of four novellas published in 1982. It's a hell of a collection, featuring " Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption," "Apt Pupil" and "The Body," the last of which inspired the 1986 movie "Stand by Me. " The book remains, along with "Misery" and "The Shining," among the best writing King has done. The secret pleasure, however, of "Different Seasons" is its afterword, in which King characterizes the novella as "an anarchy-ridden literary banana republic," with no clear borders ?
February 7, 2011 |
By his own admission, Michael Oher preferred to observe rather than participate in social settings when he was a young man. In fact, his silence was so disconcerting to social workers in Memphis, Tenn., he says, that it was misdiagnosed as repressed rage, and he was locked up in a hospital for observation. Oher's reticence left it to others to tell his story ? of a black child in Memphis' inner city who was neglected by his mother and essentially had no place to call home but ultimately blossomed when a rich, white family took him in and introduced him to the twin satisfactions of athletic and academic achievement.
January 30, 2011 |
Three Seconds A Novel Anders Roslund and Börge Hellström Translated from the Swedish by Kari Dickson Silver Oak: 489 pp., $24.95 Appetites whetted by the astronomical success of Stieg Larsson's "Girl Who" series, publishers and readers alike are on the hunt for the Next Big Swedish Crime Novel. What gets glossed over in that quest is the fact that four Swedish writers ? Henning Mankell, Hakan Nesser, Ake Edwardson and Inger Frimansson? have toiled in the field for decades and produced among them nine powerful, award-winning books.