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Culture or Neurons?

What accounts for our species’ self-consciousness and awareness of our mortality, for our impulses to create art, to cling to our memories of childhood, to believe in a deity? Two new books suggest distinct approaches to such elemental questions.

Posted on Mar 8, 2012 READ MORE


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Surviving History

What would it be like to discover Anne Frank, that most beloved and celebrated victim of the Holocaust, living in your attic?

Posted on Mar 2, 2012 READ MORE



Shining India

The raw pathos of the characters in “Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity” is of the kind usually found in great fiction, except in Katherine Boo’s book, they’re real people.

Posted on Feb 24, 2012 READ MORE



This Gay Man Represented the President

James C. Hormel’s transformation from a confused and closeted gay kid to the nation’s first openly gay ambassador is chronicled in his memoir “Fit to Serve.”

Posted on Feb 17, 2012 READ MORE



Political Divide

Are voters as polarized as their elected officials? The question, which has serious implications in an election year, has put political scientists at loggerheads in several new and recent books.

Posted on Feb 10, 2012 READ MORE



Kim Jong Un, This One’s for You

“The Orphan Master’s Son” by Adam Johnson is a rich, careening, dystopian tale that gives us a visceral hit of life inside North Korea.

Posted on Feb 3, 2012 READ MORE



A Unique Face of Evil

“Himmler was the complete opposite of a faceless functionary,” Peter Longerich writes in “Heinrich Himmler.” “The position he built up over the years can instead be described as an extreme example of the almost total personalization of political power.”

Posted on Jan 27, 2012 READ MORE



No Mickey in This ‘Maus’

Art Spiegelman’s “MetaMaus” is a 300-page user’s guide to his own Pulitzer Prize-winning “Maus” (you know, Holocaust-graphic-novel-Jews-as-mice-Nazis-as-cats).

Posted on Jan 20, 2012 READ MORE    



Europe in Free Fall

In “After the Fall: The End of the European Dream and the Decline of a Continent,” Walter Laqueur explains how Europe’s success in constructing a harmonious community of states actually masked serious social, economic and political vulnerabilities that proved too fragile to bear the world’s most severe financial crisis since the Great Depression.

Posted on Jan 13, 2012 READ MORE



Sin and Sustenance

Lauren B. Davis’ thrilling, polyphonic new novel, “Our Daily Bread,” takes us into a backwoods clan rife with child abuse and incest, and asks the question: “When does another person’s suffering become my responsibility?”

Posted on Jan 6, 2012 READ MORE


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