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About the Author

Michael O'Donnell is a lawyer who lives in Evanston, Illinois. His reviews and essays appear in The Nation, the Washington Monthly, and the Christian Science Monitor, among other publications.

Disappointment River: Finding and Losing the Northwest Passage

EXPLORATION

Disappointment River: Finding and Losing the Northwest Passage

Reviewed by Michael O'Donnell ×

Recreating a legendary expedition through Canada's vast northern wilds brings the writer face to face with our permanent effect on the planet.
Beethoven’s Eroica: The First Great Romantic Symphony

MUSIC

Beethoven’s Eroica: The First Great Romantic Symphony

Reviewed by Michael O'Donnell ×

Beethoven's 3rd symphony was a seismic event in the history of music, and its impact can still be felt.
Leonardo da Vinci

LIVES

Leonardo da Vinci

Reviewed by Michael O'Donnell ×

The creator of the world's most mysterious work of art was himself an open book. Michael O'Donnell reviews Walter Isaacson's life of the Renaissance genius.
Where the Water Goes: Life and Death Along the Colorado River

NATURAL HISTORY

Where the Water Goes: Life and Death Along the Colorado River

Reviewed by Michael O'Donnell ×

A new book looks at what the Colorado River system means for the United States -- and how that might change, permanently. Review by Michael O'Donnell.
Six Encounters with Lincoln

AMERICAN HISTORY

Six Encounters with Lincoln

Reviewed by Michael O'Donnell ×

In her final book, a historian looks to take an objective measure of the administration of an American icon. Review by Michael O'Donnell.
Travels with Henry James

TRAVEL

Travels with Henry James

Reviewed by Michael O'Donnell ×

Before he became a master of style, the young writer proved himself a genius of observation. Michael O'Donnell on a new collection of Henry James's dispatches from America and Europe.
The Pigeon Tunnel: Stories from My Life

MEMOIR

The Pigeon Tunnel: Stories from My Life

Reviewed by Michael O'Donnell ×

Is memory real? John le Carré's new memoir tries to map the border between recollection and imagination. Review by Michael O'Donnell.
Herbert Hoover in the White House: The Ordeal of the Presidency

AMERICAN HISTORY

Herbert Hoover in the White House: The Ordeal of the Presidency

Reviewed by Michael O'Donnell ×

Charles Rappleye looks at the tenure of the 31st president and the limit of good intentions. Review by Michael O'Donnell.
The End of the Cold War: 1985–1991

HISTORY

The End of the Cold War: 1985–1991

Reviewed by Michael O'Donnell ×

How the defining conflict of an era became a dead letter in less than a decade. Review by Michael O'Donnell.
Give Us the Ballot

POLITICS

Give Us the Ballot

Reviewed by Michael O'Donnell ×

"Fifty years ago this week Johnson signed into law the Voting Rights Act, one of the landmark statutes of the twentieth century. Yet the right to vote remains precarious." Michael O'Donnell reads...
The Life of Saul Bellow: To Fame and Fortune, 1915–1964

LITERATURE

The Life of Saul Bellow: To Fame and Fortune, 1915–1964

Reviewed by Michael O'Donnell ×

The early years of the novelist were marked by a confidence that he would take his place in the literary pantheon. Review by Michael O'Donnell.
Man in Profile: Joseph Mitchell of The New Yorker

JOURNALISM

Man in Profile: Joseph Mitchell of The New Yorker

Reviewed by Michael O'Donnell ×

A portrait of a writer who specialized in finding great characters, real and imagined.