Essays & Anthologies Book Reviews

BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Feb. 8, 2016

"Fascinating to dip into casually and essential to students of the Kennedy administration, the Cold War, and late-20th-century world history."
Three months, 1,700 pages. But what months they were: a season in the midterm administration of John F. Kennedy marked by faltering polls, the aftermath of near nuclear war, and one crisis after another. Read full book review >
EVERY SONG EVER by Ben Ratliff
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTS
Released: Feb. 9, 2016

"A collection of essays that makes unlikely connections that will encourage music fans to listen beyond categorical distinctions and comfort zones—though reading the book feels a little incomplete without the listening that should accompany the experience."
A veteran New York Times critic, Ratliff here goes beyond the focus on jazz in his previous books (The Jazz Ear: Conversations Over Music, 2008) to explore the consumption of music in its widest variety and availability. Read full book review >

BETTER LIVING THROUGH CRITICISM by A.O. Scott
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTS
Released: Feb. 9, 2016

"A zealous and well-considered work of advocacy for an art too often unappreciated and misunderstood."
An exploration of criticism, which "is not an enemy from which art must be defended, but rather another name—the proper name—for the defense of art itself." Read full book review >
THE GREAT LATIN AMERICAN NOVEL by Carlos Fuentes
ESSAYS & ANTHOLOGIES
Released: Feb. 12, 2016

"A valedictory work full of erudition and heart."
The late, great Mexican novelist and critic (1928-2012) offers a personal history of the fiction he admired. Read full book review >
THE FACE by Ruth Ozeki
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: March 1, 2016

"Saving face, face value, and putting on a brave face will all resonate differently with readers of this quirky, philosophical series."
Three titles inaugurate a new series of short paperbacks offering meditations on the author's face. Read full book review >

THE WAYS OF THE WORLD by David Harvey
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS
Released: March 2, 2016

"The dense doses of Marxist theory will be fairly unapproachable to readers not well-versed with the socialist thinker, but Harvey writes clearly, leading to understanding, albeit only with intense concentration and perhaps multiple readings."
Harvey (Anthropology and Geography/CUNY Graduate Center; Seventeen Contradictions and the End of Capitalism, 2014, etc.) employs the theories of Karl Marx to explain the genesis of political and economic problems in nations relying on private markets.Read full book review >
WE ARE AFGHAN WOMEN by George W. Bush Presidential Center
CURRENT AFFAIRS
Released: March 8, 2016

"A galvanizing collection of a traumatized population learning to believe in itself."
A compilation of committed Afghan women voices that underscores the great advances made in women's lives and the arduous job still ahead. Read full book review >
THE SELECTED LETTERS OF LAURA INGALLS WILDER by William Anderson
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: March 8, 2016

"As with many volumes of selected letters, this one is studded with interesting material but patchy overall."
Laura Ingalls Wilder (1867-1957) scholar Anderson (River Boy: The Story of Mark Twain, 2003, etc.) presents a collection of her heretofore unpublished personal and business letters.Read full book review >
A LOADED GUN by Jerome Charyn
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: March 15, 2016

"While much is speculation, Charyn's ardent sleuthing yields a daring portrait of the elusive 'enchantress' and her world."
A writer obsessed with the Belle of Amherst imagines her rich, sensual inner life. Read full book review >
THE MAKING OF THE AMERICAN ESSAY by John D’Agata
ESSAYS & ANTHOLOGIES
Released: March 15, 2016

"The editors of the Norton anthologies need not worry: their position in literature and in the market remains secure."
A literary anthology and textbook incorporating some three dozen presumably teachable essays—some of which are not essays at all. Read full book review >
THE ABUNDANCE by Annie Dillard
ESSAYS & ANTHOLOGIES
Released: March 15, 2016

"From the vantage point of her 70th year, this collection is a testament to a lifetime of doing just that."
A collection of essays that serve as a solid introduction to a writer blessed with an all-consuming consciousness steeped in both faith and science. Read full book review >
SAVE ROOM FOR PIE by Roy Blount Jr.
ESSAYS & ANTHOLOGIES
Released: March 15, 2016

"More soufflé than pie at times but good fun."
Humorist Blount (Alphabetter Juice: Or, the Joy of Text, 2011, etc.) serves up helpings of praise to food in a collection of yarns and poems.Read full book review >
Kirkus Interview
Michael Eric Dyson
February 2, 2016

In Michael Eric Dyson’s rich and nuanced book new book, The Black Presidency: Barack Obama and the Politics of Race in America, Dyson writes with passion and understanding about Barack Obama’s “sad and disappointing” performance regarding race and black concerns in his two terms in office. While race has defined his tenure, Obama has been “reluctant to take charge” and speak out candidly about the nation’s racial woes, determined to remain “not a black leader but a leader who is black.” Dyson cogently examines Obama’s speeches and statements on race, from his first presidential campaign through recent events—e.g., the Ferguson riots and the eulogy for the Rev. Clementa Pinckney in Charleston—noting that the president is careful not to raise the ire of whites and often chastises blacks for their moral failings. At his best, he spoke with “special urgency for black Americans” during the Ferguson crisis and was “at his blackest,” breaking free of constraints, in his “Amazing Grace” Charleston eulogy. Dyson writes here as a realistic, sometimes-angry supporter of the president. View video >