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Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief

Not an untypical story of a modern cult: a paranoid narcissist with a few interesting ideas starts a religion, abuses his followers, and nearly implod
Feb 22, 2013
Feb 04, 2013
Julius Caesar (Oxford School Shakespeare)

In the course of teaching high school sophomores for thirty years, I have read Julius Caesar more than thirty times, and I never grow tired of its ric
Mar 24, 2011
May 12, 2007
The Alchemist

A good parable--like "The Prodigal Son"--should comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. The problem with this little book is that it does p
Jan 14, 2015
Jan 08, 2015
The Mysteries of Udolpho

This mammoth, prolix book--the first wildly popular gothic novel--is indifferently written, poorly planned,and inconsistent in purpose and tone. Rad
Dec 2010
Nov 09, 2010
Titus Groan

What an odd fantasy! No swords, no sorcery, no elves, no thieves, no imaginary beasts, no multiple planes of existence . . . nothing but a cavernous c
Feb 21, 2012
Oct 06, 2009
Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power

I've been a big Rachel Maddow fan for more than seven years, from back in the Air America “Unfiltered” days when she was partnered with Chuck D. and L
Apr 07, 2012
Apr 05, 2012
American Gods (American Gods, #1)

In this unique love letter to the United States, Gaiman manages to celebrate its underground spiritual traditions, glory in the magnificence of its la
Nov 10, 2012
Nov 10, 2012
The Woman in Black

A disappointment. I kept hearing about how this was a real honest-to-god, old-fashioned ghost story steeped in the tradition of James and James (Henry
Feb 04, 2012
Feb 04, 2012
Les Liaisons Dangereuses

Dangerous Liaisons improves as it progresses. I was tempted to abandon it, but I persisted and am glad, for--although this epistolary novel of the las
Mar 11, 2013
Jan 27, 2013
The Conspiracy Against the Human Race

Are you one of those hardcore True Detective fans held in thrall by Detective Rust Cole's rants about the bleakness of the universe? Did you wonder wh
May 12, 2011
Apr 25, 2011
Lost Cat: A True Story of Love, Desperation, and GPS Technology

I love cats, but don't like cat books: the funny parts aren't that funny, the sentimental parts are way too sentimental, and the illustrations are of
Apr 29, 2013
Apr 29, 2013
The Last of the Mohicans (The Leatherstocking Tales #2)

What can one say about Cooper? His historical imagination is profound, his creative use of the gothic landscape is uniquely American, and his influenc
Mar 30, 2013
Mar 12, 2013
Outliers: The Story of Success

When I think about Malcolm Gladwell, the first phrase that comes to mind is "less than meets the eye."

At first glance, his work seems thoroughly rese
Jul 16, 2013
Jun 24, 2013
Antony and Cleopatra

This play is so good that it is not merely a masterpiece but a mystery. The two protagonists are alternately noble and petty, wise and foolish, and ye
Nov 23, 2011
May 12, 2007
The Woman in White

The only real flaw in this densely plotted page-turner of a novel is that in the end it slightly disappoints because it promises more than it delivers
Dec 07, 2011
Nov 25, 2011
Uncle Silas

“Uncle Silas” isn’t a great novel, but it does exactly what it sets out to do. It is an effective “novel of sensation” in the tradition of "The Woman
Apr 05, 2012
Mar 10, 2012
A Journal of the Plague Year

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

Who would have thought, in The Year of Our Lord 2014, that Ebola would--with its controversial questions abou
Jun 18, 2014
Feb 02, 2011
Richard III

I had remembered this play as nothing more than a superb melodrama organized around a charismatic, one-dimensional villain, but I now realize it is mu
Aug 2009
May 12, 2007
The Mystery of Dr. Fu-Manchu

I like this book, but I feel guilty about it. It's not just that it is permeated with orientalist attitudes, but that it makes those attitudes seem le
Sep 29, 2013
Sep 23, 2013
Roadside Picnic

SF writers typically approach alien contact in grandiose terms, but the Strugatsky brothers wonder instead, "What if it is more like a 'Roadside Picni
Jan 15, 2013
Jan 12, 2013
The Invention of Morel

"The Invention of Morel" is a romantic classic in which passion triumphs over convention, a surrealist classic in which imagination triumphs over real
Feb 2009
Feb 11, 2009
Titus Andronicus

Like "A Comedy of Errors," "Titus Andronicus" is part of a grammar-school-educated Shakespeare's crash-course substitute for a university education. I
Oct 2009
May 12, 2007
The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks

Jeanne Theoharis is a straightforward scholar and committed progressive whose purpose is to reveal Rosa Parks as the lifelong lefty she undoubtedly wa
Feb 20, 2013
Feb 11, 2013
The Hunchback of Notre-Dame

I recently read Victor Hugo's “Notre Dame de Paris” for the first time, and was delighted and moved by the experience. Although it lacks the depth and
Apr 29, 2013
Apr 11, 2013
The Book of Disquiet

Here is the only Portuguese literary joke I know: Q. Who are the four greatest Portuguese poets of the 20th century? A. Fernando Pessoa. Trust me, it'
Oct 19, 2013
Jun 17, 2013
The Politician: An Insider's Account of John Edwards's Pursuit of the Presidency and the Scandal That Brought Him Down

I read this book as a penance: I donated to the Edwards presidential campaign, and I wanted to know how vile the man was who persuaded me to send him
Mar 2010
Mar 10, 2010

Waverly, or 'tis Sixty Years Since can be an infuriating book. Even those accustomed to the leisurely movement of 19th century prose will find its sty
Sep 24, 2012
Aug 16, 2012
How Rome Fell: Death of a Superpower

This is a good book, but I did not enjoy it as much as I anticipated, probably because Goldsworthy emphasizes areas of the Roman experience that are
Apr 2010
Feb 13, 2010
Conjure Wife

The premise of this book must have seemed clever--and novel--when it appeared in 1943.

What if all the women are witches and keep their craft secret f
Oct 29, 2014
May 20, 2007
Idiot America: How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free

Charlie Pierce loves cranks, whom he views as distinctively American types who stay true to their convictions and, in the process, help keep us all in
Oct 2009
Sep 12, 2009
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