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Books

FILE - In this Aug. 20, 2007, file photo, author Harper Lee smiles during a ceremony honoring the four new members of the Alabama Academy of Honor at the Capitol in Montgomery, Ala. Lee, author of "To Kill a Mockingbird," said she never gave her approval to a new memoir that portrays itself as a rare, intimate look into the lives of the writer and her older sister in small-town in Alabama. "Rest assured, as long as I am alive any book purporting to be with my cooperation is a falsehood," Lee said in a letter released Monday, July 14, 2014. (AP Photo/Rob Carr, File)

‘The Mockingbird Next Door’

Sunday, July 20, 2014

What ever happened to Harper Lee? The Alabama native was 34 when her first novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, was published in 1960. This tale of childhood innocence and racial injustice in the Depression-era South won the Pulitzer Prize in 1961, was adapted for an award-winning film with Gregory Peck and became a staple of high school English curricula. But Lee shunned publicity and never published another novel, fueling occasional rumors that her friend Truman Capote — a childhood neighbor in the small town of Monroeville — had written or helped write Mockingbird. Lee went silent, but To Kill a Mockingbird endures, an American classic. …

Gordimer Grasped The Power Of Writing

Friday, July 18, 2014

Nadine Gordimer, who died Sunday at age 90, understood the power of writing as a moral force. Not only in terms of literature (although that too) but also politically, in a country — apartheid-era South Africa — where such commitment carried a high price. We think of Gordimer as an international figure, winner …

An American Commons: Photographic Study Celebrates Public Libraries

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Public Library: A Photographic Essay, by Robert Dawson, Princeton Architectural Press, 192 pages, $35 Long before I could define philanthropist, I held Andrew Carnegie in the highest esteem. When I asked, at 10, why “Carnegie” was carved into the stone over the pillared portico of the Solvay Public Library in my upstate …

White House Awaits Aides’ Memoirs

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Washington — Over the next month, two of President Obama’s closest first-term advisers will spill insider details on the administration’s handling of the early days of the recession, the White House’s cautious response to Syria and the genesis …

‘Claremont Boy’: The Boyhood (and Town) That Made the Man

Friday, May 9, 2014

Joe Steinfield left Claremont at age 18 to go to college and then law school, and has not lived there since. But in his mind he’s still a kid from Claremont, the place that was for him growing …

Inner Life of Bees: (It’s Not All About Us)

Friday, May 9, 2014

“The Bees” by Laline Paull; Ecco (340 pages, $25.99) Rational animals are a staple of children’s literature — and, in some cases, adult literature as well. I think of Richard Adams’ 1974 novel Watership Down, in which a …

Spy Stories From the Dawn Of a Revolution

Friday, May 9, 2014

“Russian Roulette: How British Spies Thwarted Lenin’s Plot for Global Revolution” by Giles Milton; Bloomsbury Press, N.Y. (400 pages, $28) If you want some wonderful spy stories, and a lesson in 20th century revolution, try Russian Roulette by …

Racism and Forgiveness

Friday, May 9, 2014

“The True American: Murder and Mercy in Texas” by Anand Giridharadas; Norton (336 pages, $27.95) In the chaos following 9/11, with America trying to unravel the devastating attacks while wondering what might be coming next, Mark Stroman walked into three Dallas gas stations and shot three men he …

Susan Orlean, Yes, That Susan Orlean, Co-Wrote a Diet Book

Friday, May 9, 2014

On the “Books, Books and More Books” section of Susan Orlean’s website, you can find information about her acclaimed nonfiction works, her children’s book, and the cookbook she co-wrote with Cooper Gillespie, who is her dog. What you …

‘Thunderstruck’ Is Unforgettable

Friday, May 2, 2014

“Thunderstruck” by Elizabeth McCracken; Dial ($26) The stories in Elizabeth McCracken’s latest collection land as swift and true as a prizefighter’s blows, and often they feel just as powerful, emotionally speaking. Thunderstruck — how apt the title is. So many moments in these stories leave you stunned and …

Tempers Flare at ‘Flash Boys’

Sunday, April 27, 2014

New York — Somewhere in New Jersey near the now famous 1 1/2-inch black plastic tube running in a stressfully straight line to a data center outside Chicago, a broke Sergey Aleynikov wonders if he’s going back to jail for supposedly stealing a bit of mysterious high-frequency-trading computer …

Taibbi Details Fallen U.S. Ideals

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Matt Taibbi begins his sixth book, The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap, with a simple formulation: “Poverty goes up; Crime goes down; Prison population doubles.” It’s a snapshot, a way to represent what Taibbi sees as the through-the-looking-glass reality of contemporary America, where …

Storytelling for Lawyers: Vermont Law School Professor Writes Book About Justice and the Narrative Arc

Friday, April 25, 2014

In 1991 lawyer Philip Meyer spent 13 weeks in Hartford, Conn., watching the trial of Louie Failla, a small-time Mafia hoodlum indicted on racketeering charges along with seven other mobsters. Failla seemed to have been caught dead to …