Reviews & Essays

LANGUAGE

Founding Grammars: How Early America’s War Over Words Shaped Today’s Language

Founding Grammars: How Early America’s War Over Words Shaped Today’s Language

By ROSEMARIE OSTLER

An impassioned history of primary U.S. prose finds “entertaining historical perspective on these linguistic clashes.”

Posted by × June 28, 2015 ×

FICTION

Death and Mr. Pickwick

Death and Mr. Pickwick

By STEPHEN JARVIS

The work that made Charles Dickens famous is the basis for a multilayered debut novel of 19th-century life and letters. Review by Adam Kirsch

Posted by × June 28, 2015 ×

REAL LIFE ROCK TOP 10

American Oxygen

American Oxygen

Greil Marcus’s month in review: Rihanna and the Splash Brothers triumph, while other national idols are called into question.

Posted by × June 24, 2015 ×

BEYOND CATEGORY

Skyfaring: A Journey with a Pilot

Skyfaring: A Journey with a Pilot

By MARK VANHOENACKER

An aviator’s memoir of life above the clouds, and what it says about our relation to heavens and Earth. Review by Peter Lewis.

Posted by × June 23, 2015 ×

WRITERS AND WRITING

Nabokov in America: On the Road to “Lolita”

Nabokov in America: On the Road to “Lolita”

By ROBERT ROPER

Vladimir Nabokov began his literary career in the world of Russian exiles in Paris. But it was the U.S. that gave him his most enduring subject. Review by Alex Beam.

Posted by × June 22, 2015 ×

CULTURAL HISTORY

The Brontë Cabinet: Three Lives in Nine Objects

The Brontë Cabinet: Three Lives in Nine Objects

By DEBORAH LUTZ

Legendary sisters Anne, Charlotte, and Emily come alive in this “unusual cultural history — not just about a family of authors but about reading itself.”

Posted by × June 17, 2015 ×

HUMAN NATURE

Madness in Civilization: A Cultural History of Insanity from the Bible to Freud, from the Madhouse to Modern Medicine

Madness in Civilization: A Cultural History of Insanity from the Bible to Freud, from the Madhouse to Modern Medicine

By ANDREW SCULL

The “preeminent scholar of insanity’s ways and means” offers a world history of mental illness, before and after neuroscience.

Posted by × June 17, 2015 ×

HISTORY

The China Mirage: The Hidden History of American Disaster in Asia

The China Mirage: The Hidden History of American Disaster in Asia

By JAMES BRADLEY

The U.S. government’s covert past in Japan, China, and beyond – and the dire consequences past and present. Review by Peter Lewis.

Posted by × June 17, 2015 ×

SHORT STORIES

A Hand Reached Down to Guide Me

A Hand Reached Down to Guide Me

By DAVID GATES

A new collection of short stories that turn on men and women pursuing agendas as self-destructive as they are self-centered. Review by Stefan Beck.

Posted by × June 15, 2015 ×

MUSIC

So Many Roads: The Life and Times of the Grateful Dead

So Many Roads: The Life and Times of the Grateful Dead

By DAVID BROWNE

A diehard fan charts the long, strange trip of the American rock group on the occasion of their retirement. Review by Justin Taylor.

Posted by × June 10, 2015 ×

TECHNOLOGY

The Dark Net: Inside the Digital Underworld

The Dark Net: Inside the Digital Underworld

By JAMIE BARTLETT

How the Internet’s hidden black markets traffic sex, drugs, and the promise of “transcending death.” Review by Nell McShane Wulfhart.

Posted by × June 10, 2015 ×

FICTION

Book of Numbers

Book of Numbers

By JOSHUA COHEN

A novel of a tech maven and the ghost writer of his memoirs proves a work of skillful engineering.

Posted by × June 10, 2015 ×

HISTORY

Reagan: The Life

Reagan: The Life

By H. W. BRANDS

A new life of Ronald Reagan follows an actor who took on the role of a lifetime. Review by Tom Carson.

Posted by × June 10, 2015 ×

REAL LIFE ROCK TOP 10

Glad All Over

Glad All Over

Greil Marcus’s month in review spotlights spring awakenings, from Paris to West Virginia and back again.

Posted by × June 3, 2015 ×

FICTION

The Meursault Investigation

The Meursault Investigation

By KAMEL DAOUD

A superb debut novel refocuses the story of Albert Camus’ “The Stranger” onto the Algerian man at its center, and his vengeful brother’s journey. Review by David Burr Gerrard.

Posted by × June 3, 2015 ×