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About the Author

Melissa H. Pierson is the author of multiple works of nonfiction including The Perfect Vehicle, Dark Horses and Black Beauties, The Place You Love Is Gone, and The Man Who Would Stop at Nothing. She writes on books and culture for a number of publications. Her most recent book is The Secret History of Kindness: Learning from How Dogs Learn.

Emerson’s Heirs: Joyce Carol Oates and Mary Oliver

ESSAYS

Emerson’s Heirs: Joyce Carol Oates and Mary Oliver

Essay by Melissa H. Pierson ×

Melissa Holbrook Pierson reads two new books on the writing life from Joyce Carol Oates and Mary Oliver and finds two wildly different stylists who are both "latter-day Transcendentalists."
Nutshell

FICTION

Nutshell

Reviewed by Melissa H. Pierson ×

In Ian McEwan's new novel, an extremely young narrator delivers a tale with Shakespearian ambition. Review by Melissa Holbrooke Pierson.
Making and Unmaking the American Soldier

HUMAN NATURE

Making and Unmaking the American Soldier

By Melissa H. Pierson ×

There's a science to making the modern soldier. Do we need a science for turning them back into civilians? Melissa Holbrook Pierson reads new books from Mary Roach and Sebastian Junger.
Imagine Me Gone

FICTION

Imagine Me Gone

Reviewed by Melissa H. Pierson ×

Adam Haslett's new novel immerses readers in a life in which music is both food for -- and relief from -- a punishing affliction. Review by Melissa H. Pierson.
At the Existentialist Café: Freedom, Being, and Apricot Cocktails

PHILOSOPHY

At the Existentialist Café: Freedom, Being, and Apricot Cocktails

Reviewed by Melissa H. Pierson ×

What does a beverage have to do with the 20th century's most important addition to the annals of philosophy? Plenty, according to Sarah Bakewell's inventive group biography. Review by Melissa...
Strange Gods: A Secular History of Conversion

ATHEISM

Strange Gods: A Secular History of Conversion

Reviewed by Melissa H. Pierson ×

Susan Jacoby looks at the history of religious conversion through the lens of the secular needs -- and threats -- that have often driven it. Review by Melissa Holbrooke Pierson.
Other Horses

BEYOND CATEGORY

Other Horses

By Melissa H. Pierson ×

On the publication of Mary Gaitskill's "The Mare", a look back at the equines in literature.
Madness in Civilization: A Cultural History of Insanity from the Bible to Freud, from the Madhouse to Modern Medicine

HUMAN NATURE

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

Reviewed by Melissa H. Pierson ×

The "preeminent scholar of insanity's ways and means" offers a world history of mental illness, before and after neuroscience.
Ten Secrets from “The Secret History of Kindness”

ANIMALS

Ten Secrets from “The Secret History of Kindness”

By Melissa H. Pierson ×

A primer of fascinating information about the rapport between man and man's best friend, from Melissa Holbrook Pierson's guide to "Learning from How Dogs Learn"....
Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town

CURRENT EVENTS

Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town

Reviewed by Melissa H. Pierson ×

The author of "Into Thin Air" and "Under the Banner of Heaven" looks at a national problem through one city's history of sexual violence. Review by Melissa Holbrooke Pierson.
The Intimate Bond: How Animals Shaped Human History

HUMAN NATURE

The Intimate Bond: How Animals Shaped Human History

Reviewed by Melissa H. Pierson ×

The creatures who've fostered civilization, from the court of Julius Caesar to your own backyard. Review by Melissa Holbrook Pierson.
Letter to a Future Lover

BEYOND CATEGORY

Letter to a Future Lover

Reviewed by Melissa H. Pierson ×

How the items found in books have lives of their own, and stoke literature's enduring flame....