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.
January 27, 2012 |
Four years ago, "Child 44," Tom Rob Smith's debut thriller set in Stalinist Russia, was a literary sensation. An edgy, intense portrait of Russia's secret police and the lengths they would go to to protect their country's image as a crime-free society, "Child 44" managed to straddle a fine line between well-researched, absorbing historical fiction and propulsive thriller that would earn the book universal praise, sales of more than 1.5 million copies...
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.
January 30, 2011 |
Vietnamerica A Family's Journey GB Tran Villard: 179 pp., $30 Where does memory end and myth begin? GB Tran's graphic novel "Vietnamerica: A Family's Journey" occupies the messy middle ground of that question. Born in 1976 in South Carolina, Tran was separated by time and geography from his family's Vietnamese roots His parents left Vietnam with their two older children three days before the fall of Saigon in 1975: Their American-born son is literally a man between cultures, with no experience of what his parents and siblings left behind.
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.