Fred's Pages

Book Reviews

See also the Reading Wish List

last update 2011-03-08

Christopher Butler, Postmodernism: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2002)
"A pre-eminently sane, lucid, and concise statement about the central issues, the key examples, and the notorious derilections of postmodernism. I feel a fresh wind blowing away the miasma coiling around the topic."--Ihab Hassan

John Crowley, Novelties & Souvenirs (HarperCollins, 2004)
... demonstrating the scope, the vision, and the wonder of one of America's greatest storytellers. Courage and achievement are celebrated and questioned, paradoxes examined, and human frailty appreciated in fifteen tales, at once lyrical and provocative, ranging fromthe fantastic to the achingly real. (Publisher's blurb)

Gary Gerstle, American Crucible: Race and Nation in the Twentieth Century (Princeton University Press, 2002)
Gerstle argues that the civil rights movement and Vietnam broke the liberal nation apart, and his analysis of this upheaval leads him to assess Reagan's and Clinton's attempts to resurrect nationalism. Can the United States ever live up to its civic creed? For anyone who views racism as an aberration from the liberal premises of the republic, this book is must reading. -Publisher

Gleiser, Marcelo, A Tear at the Edge of Creation: A Radical New Vision for Life in an Imperfect Universe (Free Press, 2010)
"... takes a critical look at the development of science itself and asks: How have we been blinding ourselves? One of its most important arguments to see the quest for unification for what it is ? an impulse with deep roots in the western religious tradition. The aspiration towards a vision of Unity in unifying mathematical physics is nothing less than the mirror image of an aspiration to know the mind of God in all the other ways human beings have explored. This is the unspoken urgency behind the quest for string theories, unified fields and those Theories of Everything. ... Instead of seeking a perfect God's-eye vision of creation, Gleiser returns us to the importance of our own imperfect but cherished perspective ? the only one we truly have." ?Adam Frank,

Jeff Biggers, Reckoning at Eagle Creek: The Secret Legacy of Coal in the Heartland (Nation Books, 2010)
Award-winning journalist and cultural historian Jeff Biggers takes us on a journey into the secret history of coal mining in the American heartland. Set in the ruins of his family's strip-mined homestead in the Shawnee National Forest in southern Illinois, Biggers delivers a deeply personal portrait of the largely overlooked human and environmental costs of our nation's dirty energy policy. -Publihser

Hazan, Eric, The Invention of Paris (Verso, 2010)
"... a guide, quartier by quartier, to the 'psychogeography' of the first great modern city. ... Not only does Hazan know what a certain street smells like, but he can tell us about the geographical, social and political forces that put it there. A widening or a curve might conceal an entire history of oppression ? or the moment Baudelaire admired a passing grisette." ?Guardian

Wilentz, Sean, Bob Dylan in America (Knopf, 2010)
"Wilentz applies his alertness to the themes of American culture, his historical scholarship, and his personal perspective on Dylan's career to create a remarkable dual portrait of the singer and his country. Opening?as have many of his subject's performances in the past few years?with an invocation of Aaron Copland, Bob Dylan in America then traces Dylan's career forward from his first arrival in Greenwich Village in the early 1960s through his artistic resurgence in the 1990s, and, even more tellingly, backward through a pageant of musical influences that seem, over the past half-century, to have inhabited the singer's voice, where they still abide." ?

Ritchin, Fred, After Photography (W. W. Norton, 2008)
"a supple, politically astute and fascinating account of the dizzying impact of the digital revolution on the trajectory of the photographic image that, like all new media, changes the world in the very act of observing it. The myth of photographic objectivity has concealed fakery as old as the medium itself, he notes, but in the digital era, concealment and manipulation come to shape the very experience of the image as sui generis: The lens has dimmed and a distorting mirror has been added. All is not lost for photography as a truth-telling medium, however: the author suggests methods for verifying the authenticity and provenance of images through footnoting and labeling. Moreover, Ritchen stresses how digital media, linked through the Web, offer an appropriative and hypertextual approach to photography that promises to reinvent the embattled authorial image into an evolving collaboration, conversation and investigation among an infinite number of ordinary people. Cautiously optimistic, the author poses provocative questions throughout, including whether digital technology and Web 2.0 together provide a means for regaining a sense of the actual from deep within a virtual world." ?Publisher's Weekly

Armstead L. Robinson, Bitter Fruits of Bondage: The Demise of Slavery and the Collapse of the Confederacy, 1861-1865 (University of Virginia Press, 2004)
"Robinson contends that ... the process of social change initiated during the birth of Confederate nationalism undermined the social and cultural foundations of the southern way of life built on slavery, igniting class conflict that ultimately sapped white southerners of the will to go on." Library Journal

Stuart Kaufmann, Reinventing the Sacred: A New View of Science, Reason and Religion (Basic Books, 2008)
"My aim is to reinvent the sacred. I present a new view of a fully natural God and of the sacred, based on a new, emerging scientific worldview. This new worldview reaches further than science itself and invites a new view of God, the sacred, and ourselves?ultimately including our science, art, ethics, politics, and spirituality. My field of research, complexity theory, is leading toward the reintegration of science with the ancient Greek ideal of the good life, well lived. It is not some tortured interpretation of fundamentally lifeless facts that prompts me to say this; the science itself compels it." —Stuart Kauffman

Amos Oz, A Tale of Love and Darkness (Harcourt, 2003)

Ursula Goodenough, The Sacred Depths of Nature (Oxford University Press, 1998)
"... reconciles the modern scientific understanding of reality with our timeless spiritual yearnings for reverence and continuity. Looking at topics such as evolution, emotions, sexuality, and death, Goodenough writes with rich, uncluttered detail about the workings of nature in general and of living creatures in particular. Her luminous clarity makes it possible for even non-scientists to appreciate that the origins of life and the universe are no less meaningful because of our increasingly scientific understanding of them." -publisher

Jonathan Franzen, Freedom: A Novel (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010)

Fred Ritchin, In Our Own Image (Aperture, 1990)

T.H. Breen, American Insurgents, American Patriots (Hill and Wang, 2010)
"A provocative reinterpretation of the American Revolution as more of a grassroots movement of ordinary persons than is often presented. Beginning roughly two years before the 1776 Declaration of Independence, thousands of colonists?mostly farm families living in small communities?elected committees to channel their mounting fear, fury, and resentment into organized resistance. Fed up with the British Empire's incessant demands for ever greater loyalty, obedience, and taxes?and, Breen emphasizes, motivated by their evangelical faith?they had resolved to fight well before their famous leaders made it official," ?

Eric Foner, The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery (W. W. Norton, 2010)
"Do we need yet another book on Lincoln, especially in the wake of all the Lincoln volumes that appeared last year in commemoration of the 200th anniversary of his birth? Well, yes, we do ? if the book is by so richly informed a commentator as Eric Foner, the DeWitt Clinton professor of history at Columbia. Foner tackles what would seem to be an obvious topic, Lincoln and slavery, and manages to cast new light on it." ?New York Times Book Review

Harvey Sachs, The Ninth: Beethoven and the World of 1824 (Random House, 2010)
"Sachs places the symphony?s argument in a Europe-wide context, including such figures as Heine, Stendhal, Byron, Pushkin and Delacroix. All of them argued for liberty and brotherhood in ways which echo the Ninth Symphony?s line, Alle Menschen werden Bruder. All of them, too, had a new sort of regard for evidence of artistic struggle and even chaos." ?London Telegraph

Joe Flood, The Fires: How a Computer Formula, Big Ideas, and the Best of Intentions Burned Down New York City-and Determined the Future of Cities (Riverhead, 2010)
"It's comforting to believe that science, technology, and intellectual rigor can solve the world's ills. In The Fires, Joe Flood pierces that progressive certainty by exhaustively researching a long-forgotten period of New York's history-when algorithms helped the city's smartest leaders let the city burn. Flood's book reads like the best fiction, but is all the more important for its depiction of a real-life metropolitan tragedy." ?Slate

John Crowley, Four Freedoms

Reif Larsen, The Selected Works of T. S. Spivet

Jill Lepore, The Name of War: King Philip's War and the Origins of American Identity

Edmund White, The Flaneur: A Stroll Through the Paradoxes of Paris (Bloomsbury USA, 2008)
"White's Paris is a place rich in history with a passion for novelty and distractions. So a walk through the Jewish ghetto leads to the history of the little-known Mus?e Nissim de Camondo, with its impressive collection of Louis XV and Louis XVI furniture, created by a family of Jewish bankers ultimately killed in the Holocaust. White shares other favorite and obscure museums, such as the H?tel du Lauzun, where writers like Balzac and Charles Baudelaire and the painter Edouard Manet met for long evenings of music and hashish-induced hallucinations. Reminiscences in Montmartre reach back to the thriving jazz culture created by African Americans in the years between the world wars and include stories about Josephine Baker, Richard Wright, and James Baldwin." —

Thomas Brothers, Louis Armstrong's New Orleans

Eric W. Sanderson, Mannahatta: A Natural History of New York City

Rick Perlstein, Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America

David R. Roediger, How Race Survived U.S. History from Settlement And Slavery to the Obama Phenomenon

George R. Stewart, Names on the Land: A Historical Account of Place-Naming in the United States (New York Review Books Classics)

Dorothy Dunnett, Niccolo Rising: The First Book of The House of Niccolo

Rick Perlstein, Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America

Jeremy Bernstein, Quantum Leaps

Dorothy Dunnett, Race of Scorpions

Christopher Hibbert, Redcoats and Rebels: The American Revolution Through British Eyes

Dorothy Dunnett, Scales of Gold: The Fourth Book of The House of Niccolo

Amitav Ghosh, Sea of Poppies

Darsie Alexander, Singular Images

Neil Gaiman, Stardust

Carlota Perez, Technological Revolutions and Financial Capital: The Dynamics of Bubbles and Golden Ages

Emile Zola, The Belly of Paris (Oxford World’s Classics)

Nicholas Carr, The Big Switch: Rewiring the World, from Edison to Google

Michael Pollan, The Botany of Desire: A Plant’s-Eye View of the World

Charles Freeman, The Closing of the Western Mind: The Rise of Faith and the Fall of Reason

Toby Lester, The Fourth Part of the World: The Race to the Ends of the Earth, and the Epic Story of the Map That Gave America Its Name

Dorothy Dunnett, The Game of Kings (Lymond Chronicles, 1)

Lewis Hyde, The Gift: Imagination and the Erotic Life of Property

Steven Stoll, The Great Delusion: A Mad Inventor, Death in the Tropics, and the Utopian Origins of Economic Growth

Tom Lewis, The Hudson: A History

Steven Johnson, The Invention of Air

Barbara Kingsolver, The Lacuna: A Novel

James Howard Kunstler, The Long Emergency: Surviving the End of Oil, Climate Change, and Other Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-First Century

Peter Linebaugh, The Magna Carta Manifesto: Liberties and Commons for All

Thomas Hardy, The Mayor of Casterbridge (Penguin Classics)

Michael Pollan, The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals

Russell Banks, The Reserve

Alex Ross, The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century

Dorothy Dunnett, The Spring of the Ram: The Second Book of The House of Niccolo

Ned Sublette, The World That Made New Orleans: From Spanish Silver to Congo Square

Alan Weisman, The World Without Us

Rusty L. Monhollon, This Is America?: The Sixties in Lawrence, Kansas

Center for Land Use Interpretation, Up River: Man-Made Sites of Interest on the Hudson from the Battery to Troy (The Center for Land Use Interpretation American Regional Landscape Series)

Marcus Rediker, Villains of All Nations: Atlantic Pirates in the Golden Age

Leo/ Briggs, Anthony/ Figes, Orlando (AFT) Tolstoy, War And Peace

Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, Watchmen

Tom Piazza, Why New Orleans Matters

James Howard Kunstler, World Made by Hand: A Novel

Matthew B. Crawford, Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry Into the Value of Work (Penguin Press, 2009)

Greenblatt, Stephen, Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare (Norton, 2004)
"Greenblatt?s book is startlingly good?the most complexly intelligent and sophisticated, and yet the most keenly enthusiastic, study of the life and work taken together that I have ever read. Greenblatt knows the life and the period deeply, has no hobbyhorses to ride, and makes, one after another, exquisitely sensitive and persuasive connections between what the eloquent poetry says and what the fragmentary life suggests. A fully postmodernized critic, he knows the barriers of rhetoric and artifice that make us write the poems and then have the feelings as often as we have the feelings first. But he does not make the postmodern mistake of overestimating those barriers, either. Poets may often write things they do not feel, but they rarely feel things that they do not, sooner or later, write. The absence of one emotion in Shakespeare, the undue intensity of another are powerful indicators of a mind and a man at work." ?Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker

Wynton Marsalis with Geoffrey C. Ward, Moving to Higher Ground: How Jazz Can Change Your Life (Random House, 2008)
?In this book I hope to reach a new audience with the positive message of America?s greatest music, to show how great musicians demonstrate on the bandstand a mutual respect and trust that can alter your outlook on the world and enrich every aspect of your life?from individual creativity and personal relationships to conducting business and understanding what it means to be American in the most modern sense.? ?Wynton Marsalis

Russell Banks, The Reserve (HarperCollins, 2008)

Robert Penn Warren, All the King's Men (Restored Edition) (Harcourt, 2001)
A controversial edition of an American classic.

James Howard Kunstler, World Made By Hand (Atlantic Monthly, 2008)
A dystopian yet somehow hopeful novel of the none too distant post-oil future, wherein local townspeople - survivors of a massive flu epidemic - contend with a religious cult, a gang of ex-bikers, and a neofeudal landlord to keep their upstate New York village just barely liveable.

James Howard Kunstler, The Long Emergency: Surviving the Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-First Century (Grove/Atlantic, 2005)
"Discerning an imminent future of protracted socioeconomic crisis, Kunstler foresees the progressive dilapidation of subdivisions and strip malls, the depopulation of the American Southwest, and, amid a world at war over oil, military invasions of the West Coast; when the convulsion subsides, Americans will live in smaller places and eat locally grown food." ?Booklist

John Crowley, Daemonomania (Overlook Press, 2008)
Volume 3 of Crowley's ?gypt tetralogy, "a journey into the very mystery of existence: what is, what went before, and what could break through at any moment in our lives." Bookforum says ?We may one day look on ?gypt?s publishing history with the same head-scratching curiosity with which we now regard Melville?s tragic struggles and Andr? Gide?s decision to turn down Swann?s Way.?

Ned Sublette, The World That Made New Orleans: From Spanish Silver to Congo Square (Lawrence Hill, 2008)
?The destruction of buildings in 2005 was fearful, but so was the loss of something intangible: African America took a blow when the collective knowledge of black New Orleans was scattered to the four winds. Dispersing that population was like tearing up an encyclopedia in front of an electric fan. This book is dedicated to the people who are trying to put that book back together.? ?author Ned Sublette

Michael Chabon, Maps and Legends (McSweeney's, 2008)
Makes a passionate defense for the "borderlands" of literature, "the spaces between genres," "the secret shelves between the sections in the bookstore." A diverse assortment of writings, including serious literary criticism, some autobiographical sketches and a few more opinionated polemics, all of which in one way or another endeavor to counter the "disdain and neglect" Chabon finds too often heaped upon "nonliterary" fiction.

Stephen Budiansky, The Bloody Shirt: Terror After Appomattox (Viking, 2007)
"In his vivid, fast-paced narrative of the era now known as Reconstruction, Stephen Budiansky illuminates the lives of five remarkable men?two Union officers, a Confederate general, a Northern entrepreneur, and a former slave?whose idealism in the face of overwhelming hatred would not be matched for nearly a century. The Bloody Shirt is a story of violence, racism, division, and heroism that sheds new light on a crucial time in America?s history." (publisher's blurb)

Michael Pollan, The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals (Penguin, 2007)
Assesses "the dysfunction of the entire American industrial food complex. The situation is a lot worse than most of us dare imagine, for Americans are some of the most specialized eaters on earth. At the base of the national food chain is a single species of grass?corn?and its growth, processing, and sale constitute a titanic industry which is focused on increasing profits rather than health and well-being."

John Crowley, Lord Byron's Novel: The Evening Land (William Morrow, 2005)

Linebaugh, Peter, The Magna Carta Manifesto: Liberties and Commons for All (University of California Press, 2008)
"Peter Linebaugh ... traces one path of liberty back to the forests and the economic independence they represented for medieval Britons, another path to recent revolutionaries, another to the Bush Administration's assaults on habeas corpus, the Constitution, and liberty and he links the human rights charter that Magna Carta represented to the less-known Forest Charter, drawing a missing link between ecological and social well-being." ?Rebecca Solnit

Guy Debord, Panegyric (Verso, 2004)
"A rare combination of poetry and precision, it tells of something even rarer: a life that refused to adjust to the dominant malignancies of its time." (Publisher's blurb)

John Crowley, Love & Sleep (Overlook Press, 2008)
Volume two of Crowley's ?gypt tetralogy, out of print until quite recently. Bookforum says ?We may one day look on ?gypt?s publishing history with the same head-scratching curiosity with which we now regard Melville?s tragic struggles and Andr? Gide?s decision to turn down Swann?s Way.?

Sudhir Venkatesh, Gang Leader for a Day: A Rogue Sociologist Takes to the Streets (Penguin, 2008)
"A lot of writing about the poor tends to reduce living, breathing, joking, struggling, sensual, moral human beings to dupes who are shoved about by invisible forces. This book ... shows, day by day and dollar by dollar, how the crack dealers, tenant leaders ... cops, and Venkatesh himself tried to construct a good life out of substandard materials." —Stephen Dubner

Rebecca Solnit, A Book of Migrations: Some Passages in Ireland (Verso, 1997)
"... a postcolonial revision of conventional travel literature. In her passage through Ireland, Rebecca Solnit portrays in microcosm a history made of great human tides of invasion, colonization, emigration, nomadism and tourism. Travel itself produces its own versions of memory and identity, and travel's transformation into the information age's pre-eminent industry ? tourism ? comes under close scrutiny." (publisher's blurb)

Graham Robb, The Discovery of France: A Historical Geography From the Revolution to the First World War (W.W. Norton, 2007)
"Robb describes a land of secrets slowly divulged, a nation in name only for most of its history, fragmented by mutually incomprehensible dialects and deeply rooted regional cultures. France ... dissolves under close inspection into a vast cabinet of curiosities, an endless series of counterexamples to the myth of a culturally unified nation and people." ?New York Times

Suze Rotolo, A Freewheelin' Time: A Memoir of Greenwich Village in the Sixties (Broadway Books, 2008)
"Suze Rotolo?s firsthand, eyewitness, participant-observer account of the immensely creative and fertile years of the 1960s, just before the circus was in full swing and Bob Dylan became the anointed ringmaster. It chronicles the back-story of Greenwich Village in the early days of the folk music explosion, when Dylan was honing his skills and she was in the ring with him." (Publisher's blurb)

Rebecca Solnit, Storming the Gates of Paradise: Landscapes for Politics (University of California Press, 2007)
"For Solnit, walking the earth, placing words on a page, and standing up for her beliefs are symbiotic acts. Following in the footsteps of her guiding light, Henry David Thoreau, Solnit contemplates our sense of place, an ever-shifting mix of nature and culture. [She] presents a potent collection of nearly 40 essays sophisticated in thought, elegant in expression, and catalyzing in impact." (Booklist)

Alice Outwater, Water: A Natural History (Basic Books, 1997)
"What a fresh and vital book this is, one that will change the terms of many debates. Bring back the beaver, bring back the prairie dog, and with them will come the water 'clear as dew' that once distinguished this continent.' —Bill McKibben

Jonathan Gould, Can't Buy Me Love: The Beatles, Britain, and America (Harmony, 2007)
"From the Beats in America and the Angry young Men in England to the shadow of the Profumo Affair and JFK's assassination, Gould captures the pulse of a time that made the Beatles possible—and even necessary. As seen through the prism of the Beatles and their music, an entire generation's experience comes astonishingly to life." (from book jacket)

John Crowley, The Solitudes (Overlook Press, 2007)
Volume one of Crowley's ?gypt tetralogy?out of print until quite recently—in which "we are introduced to Pierce Moffett, an unorthodox historian and an expert in ancient astrology, myths, and superstition. The land that Moffett studies is not the real, geographical Egypt but ?gypt, a country of the imagination. When Moffett discovers the historical novels of local writer Fellowes Kraft, his course is charted. Kraft?s books interweave stories of Italian heretic Giordano Bruno, young Will Shakespeare, and Elizabethan occultist John Dee?stories that begin to mingle with the narrative of Moffett?s real and dream life in 1970s America." (Publisher's blurb)

Nathaniel Philbrick, Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War (Viking, 2006)

Charles Sellers, The Market Revolution: Jacksonian America, 1815-1846 (Oxford University Press, 1991)
Before the market revolution: Americans grew food and made things for themselves or to barter with neighbors; they were humble but happy, rallying around ?enduring human values of family, trust, cooperation, love, and equality.? After: they grew food and made things to sell, for cash, to cold, unfeeling, and distant markets; they were frantic, alienated, untrusting, competitive, repressed, and lonely.

Susan Freinkel, American Chestnut: The Life, Death, and Rebirth of a Perfect Tree (University of California Press, 2007)
"In prose as strong and quietly beautiful as the American chestnut itself, Susan Freinkel profiles the silent catastrophe of a near-extinction and the impassioned struggle to bring a species back from the brink. Freinkel is a rare hybrid: equally fluid and in command as a science writer and a chronicler of historical events, and graced with the poise and skill to seamlessly graft these talents together. A perfect book." —Mary Roach

Tom Lewis, The Hudson: A History (Yale University Press, 2005)
"Avenue of the explorers, battlefield for empires, easel for artists, and dump for industry?the Hudson has been a stage for epics since its namesake dropped anchor in 1609. ... Spanning armies and aesthetics, the versatile, fluid Lewis writes with affection for the river and its history."?Booklist

Bill McKibben, Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future (Times Books, 2007)
"McKibben's animating idea is that we need to move beyond 'growth' as the paramount economic ideal and pursue prosperity in a more local direction, with cities, suburbs, and regions producing more of their own food, generating more of their own energy, and even creating more of their own culture and entertainment. He shows this concept blossoming around the world with striking results ..."

Oakley Hall, Warlock (New York Review Books, 2005)
"Tombstone, Arizona, during the 1880's is, in ways, our national Camelot: a never-never land where American virtues are embodied in the Earps, and the opposite evils in the Clanton gang; where the confrontation at the OK corral takes on some of the dry purity of the Arthurian joust. Oakley Hall has restored to the myth of Tombstone its full, mortal, blooded humanity. ... Before the agonized epic of Warlock is over with -- the rebellion of the proto-Wobblies working in the mines, the struggling for political control of the area, the gunfighting, mob violence, the personal crises of those in power -- the collective awareness that is Warlock must face its own inescapable Horror: that what is called society, with its law and order, is as frail, as precarious, as flesh and can be snuffed out and assimilated back into the desert as easily as a corpse can. It is the deep sensitivity to abysses that makes Warlock one of our best American novels." ?Thomas Pynchon

Locke, Searls, Levine and Weinberger, The Cluetrain Manifesto: The End of Business as Usual (Perseus Books, 2000)
"[s] how the Internet is turning business upside down. ... Thanks to conversations taking place on Web sites and message boards, and in e-mail and chat rooms, employees and customers alike have found voices that undermine the traditional command-and-control hierarchy that organizes most corporate marketing groups. 'Markets are conversations,' the authors write, and those conversations are "getting smarter faster than most companies.'"

Sophie Howarth, ed., Singular Images: Essays on Remarkable Photographs (Aperture, 2005)
"Even though art photography has been well surveyed in recent years, individual works have rarely been written about at length. Each of these essays focuses on the uniqueness of one particular image?a uniqueness illuminated in highly personal ways by each of the essayists, whether in terms of the artist?s intention, the writer?s response, the work?s technical complexities, its historical context, or a purely formal analysis."

Larry McMurtry, Sacagawea's Nickname: Essays on the American West (New York Review Books, 2001)
"McMurtry casts a keen and elegaic eye not only on the often harsh truths of the West, but also on the power of western illusions, of what he calls 'that other, endlessly imagined West, the West that can never be fully believed or wholly denied.'"

Gregory Maguire, Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (ReganBooks/HarperCollins, 1995)

Gregory Maguire, Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister (ReganBooks/HarperCollins, 1999)
"... far more than a clever retelling of Cinderella. Even if readers were somehow ignorant of the fairy tale, they would still encounter a resonant and gripping narrative, with much to say about gender politics, children's rights, the beauty of art, class bigotry and the oppression of conformity."

Simon Schama, A History of Britain: At the Edge of the World? 3000 B.C. - 1603 A.D. (Miramax, 2000)
"Schama can characterize like Tacitus, narrate like Macaulay, quip like A. J. P. Taylor. He should set a fashion for the revival of the art, almost forgotten by professional academics, of good storytelling. ... It might just pass muster as an old-fashioned History of England. As a History of Britain, it is laughable."?Patrick Wormald

Timothy Hilton, John Ruskin: The Early Years (Yale University Press, 1985)
Part 1 of the authoritative biography of John Ruskin, among the most influential nineteenth-century critics of art and society. It draws on the complete text of Ruskin's diaries and many thousands of unpublished letters and other documents to provide fresh insight into the background and content of Ruskin's extensive writings.

Nicols Fox, Against the Machine: The Hidden Luddite Tradition in Literature, Art, and Individual Lives (Island Press, 2004)
"Resistance to technology is a thread running through Western culture for the past 200 years, always present though always a dissenting view. Beginning with the Luddites, who smashed machinery in British textile mills in the 1810s, she traces literary, artistic and philosophical expressions of antitechnological thought up to the present. And she describes more-direct efforts to derail technology or to construct low-tech ways of life."

Thomas Rinaldi and Robert J. Yasinsac, Hudson Valley Ruins: Forgotten Landmarks of an American Landscape (University Press of New England, 2006)
Images and commentary on more than 50 ruins in the Hudson Valley, including the remains of the never finished Dunderberg Spiral Railway in Rockland, Greene County's hamlet of Smith's Landing, the Dutch Reformed Church in Newburgh, as well as such aging Dutchess County gems as Rhinebeck's Wyndclyffe Mansion, the Hudson River State Hospital in Poughkeepsie, and the renowned Bannerman's Castle on Pollepel Island.

Roberto Bola?o, Last Evenings on Earth (New Directions, 2006)

Roberto Bola?o, Nocturno de Chile (Anagrama, 2000)

Roberto Bola?o, Distant Star (New Directions, 2004)

Roberto Bola?o, Monsieur Pain (Anagrama, 1999)

China Mieville, The Scar (Del Rey, 2002)
"There can now be no doubt that there's no one in contemporary fantasy writing quite like China Mi?ville (the good but overrated Neil Gaiman pales most in comparison), and we should all be delighted that a talent like his has come along at the turn of the century to inject life into a genre stuck for so long in a creative cul-de-sac." (

Christopher Moore, A Dirty Job (HarperCollins, 2006)

Don Tapscott & Anthony D. Williams, Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything (Portfolio, 2006)
"Millions of media buffs now use blogs, wikis, chat rooms, and personal broadcasting to add their voices to a vociferous stream of dialogue and debate called the 'blogosphere.' Employees drive performance by collaborating with peers across organizational boundaries, creating what we call a 'wiki workplace.' Customers become 'prosumers' by cocreating goods and services rather than simply consuming the end product. ... Smart companies are encouraging, rather than fighting, the heaving growth of massive online communities?many of which emerged from the fringes of the Web to attract tens of millions of participants overnight. ... Indeed, as a growing number of firms see the benefits of mass collaboration, this new way of organizing will eventually displace the traditional corporate structures as the economy?s primary engine of wealth creation."

Roger Morris & Sally Denton, The Money and the Power:The Making of Las Vegas and Its Hold on America, 1947-2000 (Random House, 2001)
"In a sense it is misleading in Las Vegas, and even in much of America, to draw that old distinction between criminal and legal. The system we are describing in the nation and the city is so profoundly and inextricably enmeshed, the old criminal ethic of exploitation and greed is so much the ethic of corporate "legal" America, that the distinctions are difficult to make when it comes to understanding power, the way things really work in America." ?Roger Morris

Gerard Helferich, Humboldt's Cosmos: Alexander Von Humboldt and the Epic Exploration of Latin America that Changed the Way We See the World (Gotham, 2005)

Anne Winters, The Displaced of Capital (University of Chicago Press, 2004)

Loren Goldner, Herman Melville: Between Charlemagne And the Antemosaic Cosmic Man: Race, Class And the Crisis of Bourgeois Ideology in an American Renaissance Writer (Queeqeg Books, 2006)

David Kehlmann, Measuring the World (Pantheon, 2006)

John Crowley, Little, Big (HarperCollins, 2002)

China Mi?ville, Perdido Street Station (Del Rey, 2000)

John Irving, A Prayer for Owen Meany (Ballantine, 1989)

Robert Bly, The Insanity of Empire: A Book of Poems Against the Iraq War (Ally Press, 2006)

Geraldine Brooks, March (Penguin, 2005)

Lee Smolin, The Trouble With Physics: The Rise of String Theory, the Fall of a Science, and What Comes Next (Houghton Mifflin, 2006)
See also this commentary.

John Battelle, The Search: How Google and its Rivals Rewrote the Rules of Business and Transformed Our Culture (Portfolio/Penguin, 2005)

Doctorow, E. L., The March (Random House, 2005)

Dave Van Ronk, The Mayor of Macdougal Street: A Memoir (with Elijah Wald) (Perseus Books, 2006)

David Abram, The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-Than-Human World (Vintage, 1997)

Peter Linebaugh & Markus Rediker, The Many-Headed Hydra: The Hidden History of the Revolutionary Atlantic (Beacon Press, 2000)
Perhaps the best nonfiction work I've read in the past 10 years (or more).

Annie Proulx, That Old Ace in the Hole (Scribner, 2003)

Barnet Schecter, The Devil's Own Work: The Civil War Draft Riots and the Fight to Reconstruct America (Walker, 2006)

Mike Davis & Justin Akers Chacon, No One Is Illegal: Fighting Racism and State Violence on the U.S.-Mexico Border (Haymarket Books, 2006)

Silvia Nazario, Enrique's Journey: The Story of a Boy's Dangerous Odyssey to Reunite with his Mother (Random House, 2006)

Hector Tobar, Translation Nation: Defining a New Identity in the Spanish-Speaking United States (Riverhead, 2005)

William T. Vollman, Europe Central (Penguin, 2006)

Robert Bruegmann, Sprawl : A Compact History (University of Chicago Press, 2005)

William Cronon, Nature's Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West (W.W. Norton, 1992)

Ernst Mayr, One Long Argument: Charles Darwin and the Genesis of Modern Evolutionary Thought (Harvard University Press, 1991)

Reza Aslan, No God But God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam (Random House, 2005)

Charles C. Mann, 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus (Knopf, 2005)

Arno J. Mayer, The Furies: Violence and Terror in the French and Russian Revolutions (Princeton University Press, 2000)

Andy Merrifield, Guy Debord (Reaktion Books, 2005)

Tim Brookes, The Driveway Diaries: A Dirt Road Almanac (Turtle Point Press, 2005)

Flann O'Brien, At Swim-Two-Birds (The Dalkey Archive Press, 1998)

Patrick O'Brian, Master and Commander; Post Captain; H.M.S. Surprise; etc. (W. W. Norton, 1973)
Avast and belay, ye lubbers - I'm totally hooked on this series ...

Garry Wills, Henry Adams and the Making of America (Houghton Mifflin, 2005)

George Packer, The Assassins' Gate: America in Iraq (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2005)

Dennis McNally, Desolate Angel: Jack Kerouac, The Beat Generation, and America (Da Capo, 1979)

Paul Schneider, The Adirondacks: A History of America's First Wilderness (Henry Holt, 1997)

Jack Kerouac, On the Road

Bill McKibben, Wandering Home: A Long Walk Across America's Most Hopeful Landscape?Vermont's Champlain Valley and New York's Adirondacks (Random House, 2005)

John Stauffer, The Black Hearts of Men: Radical Abolitionists and the Transformation of Race (Harvard University Press, 2002)

Zulfikar Ghose, The Incredible Brazilian (Macmillan, 1972)

Daniel K. Richter, Facing East from Indian Country: A Native History of Early America (Harvard University Press, 2001)

Russell Banks, Cloudsplitter (HarperCollins, 1998)

David S. Reynolds, John Brown, Abolitionist: The Man Who Killed Slavery, Sparked the Civil War, and Seeded Civil Rights (Knopf, 2005)

Buzz Bissinger, Three Nights in August: Strategy, Heartbreak & Joy - Inside the Mind of a Manager (Houghton Mifflin, 2005)

Jane Jacobs, Dark Age Ahead (Random House, 2004)

Neal Stephenson, The System of the World (William Morrow, 2004)

Neal Stephenson, The Confusion (William Morrow, 2004)

Neal Stephenson, Quicksilver (HarperCollins, 2003)

Andre? Makine, Dreams of My Russian Summers (Arcade, 1997)

Stephen Jay Gould, Rocks of Ages: Science and Religion in the Fullness of Life (Ballantine, 1999)

Barry Miles, Zappa: A Biography (Grove Press, 2004)

Susanna Clarke, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell (Bloomsbury, 2004)

Emmanuel Todd, After the Empire: The Breakdown of the American Order (Columbia University Press, 2004)

Martin Torgoff, Can't Find My Way Home: America in the Great Stoned Age, 1945-2000 (Simon & Schuster, 2004)

Stephen Greenblatt, Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare (W.W. Norton, 2004)

Jonah Raskin, American Scream: Allen Ginsberg's Howl and the Making of the Beat Generation (University of California Press, 2004)

Bob Dylan, Chronicles: Volume One (Simon & Schuster, 2004)

Kerstin Ekman, The Forest of Hours (Vintage, 1999)

Edward P. Jones, The Known World (HarperCollins, 2003)

Jason Webster, Duende: A Journey to the Heart of Flamenco (Broadway Books, 2003)

Joan Didion, Where I Was From (Knopf, 2003)

Ken Kalfus, Pu-239 and Other Russian Fantasies (Milkweed Editions, 1999)

Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Americus I (New Directions, 2004)

Tom Engelhardt, The End of Victory Culture: Cold War America and the Disillusioning of a Generation (University of Massachusetts Press, 1998)

Geoffrey O'Brien, Sonata for Jukebox: Pop Music, Memory and the Imagined Life (Counterpoint, 2004)

Peter Galison, Einstein's Clocks and Poincaré's Maps: Empires of Time (W. W. Norton, 2003)

Rebecca Solnit, Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities (Nation Books, 2004)

Michele Wucker, Why the Cocks Fight: Dominicans, Haitians, And The Struggle For Hispaniola (Hill & Wang, 1999)

Robert P. Kirshner, The Extravagant Universe: Exploding Stars, Dark Energy and the Accelerating Cosmos (Princeton University Press, 2002)

Neal Stephenson, The Diamond Age (Bantam, 2000)

Edward Said and Daniel Barenboim, Parallels and Paradoxes: Explorations in Music and Society (Pantheon, 2002)

Mike Marqusee, Chimes of Freedom: The Politics of Bob Dylan's Art (The New Press, 2003)

Rebecca Solnit, Savage Dreams: A Journey into the Landscape Wars of the American West (University of California Press, 1999)

Scott Saul, Freedom Is, Freedom Ain't: Jazz and the Making of the Sixties (Harvard University Press, 2003)

Madison Smartt Bell, Master of the Crossroads (Penguin, 2001)

Madison Smartt Bell, All Souls' Rising (Penguin, 1996)

Brian Greene, The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory (W.W. Norton, 1999)

Rebecca Solnit, River of Shadows: Eadweard Muybridge and the Technological Wild West (Viking Press, 2003)

Arthur I. Miller, Einstein, Picasso?Space, Time and the Beauty That Causes Havoc (Basic Books, 2001)

E.M. Forster, Howard's End (Barnes & Noble Classic Edition, 2003)

James Miller, Flowers in the Dustbin: The Rise of Rock 'n' Roll, 1947-1977 (Simon & Schuster, 1999)

Larry Kirwan, Liverpool Fantasy (Thunder's Mouth Press, 2003)

Ken Kalfus, Thirst (Milkweed Editions, 1999)

William H. Gass, Reading Rilke: Reflections on the Problems of Translation (Knopf, 1999)

William H. Gass, Tests of Time (University of Chicago Press, 2002)

Nelson Algren, Nonconformity (Seven Stories Press, 1996)

John R. Stilgoe, Outside Lies Magic: Regaining History and Awareness in Everyday Places (Walker & Co., 1998)

John R. Stilgoe, Alongshore (Yale University Press, 1996)

Juan Goytisolo, Marks of Identity (Grove Press, 1969)

Juan Goytisolo, State of Siege (City Lights Books, 2002)

Ammiel Alcalay, Memories of Our Future: Selected Essays 1982-1999 (City Lights Books, 1999)

Michael Lesy, Long Time Coming: A Photographic Portrait of America, 1935-1943 (W.W. Norton, 2002)

T.J. Stiles, Jesse James: Last Rebel of the Civil War (Knopf, 2002)

Ken Kalfus, The Commissariat of Enlightenment (Scribner, 2002)

Gioconda Belli, The Country Under My Skin (Random House, 2002)

Susan Buck-Morss, Dreamworld and Catastrophe: The Passing of Mass Utopia in East and West (MIT Press, 2002)

Nicholas Dawidoff, The Fly Swatter: How My Grandfather Made His Way in the World (Pantheon, 2002)

Jonathan Marks, What It Means to Be 98% Chimpanzee: Apes, People and Their Genes (University of California Press, 2002)

Ellen Ullman, Close to the Machine: Technophilia and its Discontents (City Lights, 1997)

Richard Lewontin, The Triple Helix: Gene, Organism, and Environment (Harvard University Press, 2001)

Alan Furst, Dark Star (Random House, 2002)

John Crowley, The Translator (Morrow, 2002)

Haruki Murakami, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles (Vintage, 1998)

Douglas Hofstadter, Le ton beau de Marot: In Praise of the Music of Language (HarperCollins, 1997)

Neil Gaiman, American Gods (HarperCollins, 2002)

Philip Pullman, His Dark Materials (Random House)
trilogy: The Golden Compass / The Subtle Knife / The Amber Spyglass

Lee Smolin, Three Roads to Quantum Gravity (Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 2000)

Russell Hoban, Riddley Walker
Various editions?first published 1980

Hans Magnus Enzensberger, The Number Devil (Metropolitan Books, 1998)

Oliver Sacks, Uncle Tungsten: Memories of a Chemical Boyhood (Knopf, 2001)

David Weinberger, Small Pieces Loosely Joined (A Unified Theory of the Web) (Perseus, 2002)

Ian McEwan, Atonement (Doubleday, 2002)

Francis Jennings, The Creation of America: Through Revolution to Empire (Cambridge University Press, 2000)

David Hajdu, Positively 4th Street: The Lives and Times of Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Mimi Baez Fari?a, and Richard Fari?a (FSG, 2001)

Jonathan Franzen, The Corrections (FSG, 2001)

William Doyle, An American Insurrection (Doubleday, 2001)

W. G. Sebald, Vertigo (New Directions, 2000)

Mark Winegardner, Crooked River Burning (Harcourt, 2002)

Ron Powers, Tom and Huck Don't Live Here Anymore (St. Martin's, 2001)

Zadie Smith, White Teeth (Random House, 2000)

Robin Wright, The Last Great Revolution: Turmoil and Transformation in Iran (Knopf, 2000)

Coleman Barks, trans., The Essential Rumi

William McFeeley, Frederick Douglass (W.W. Norton, 1995)

Louis Menand, The Metaphysical Club: A Story of Ideas in America (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2001)

Christopher Hitchens, The Trial of Henry Kissinger (Verso, 2001)

Henry Miller, The Air-Conditioned Nightmare (New Directions Books)

Tom Shippey, Tolkien: Author of the Century (HarperCollins)

Ray Kurzweil, The Age of Spiritual Machines: When Computers Exceed Human Intelligence (Viking, 1999)

Alan Dressler, Voyage to the Great Attractor (Knopf, 1994)

Jessica, voysALdWTqbh (Pantheon, 1985)
Are you a student? young preteens pictures wow thats a very small dick

Kenneth Rexroth, An Autobiographical Novel (New Directions, 1964)


Toni Morrison, A Mercy

Robert Penn Warren, All the King’s Men

Kevin Boyle, Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights, and Murder in the Jazz Age

Constance Rourke, American Humor: A Study of the National Character (New York Review Books, 2004)
"Stepping out of the darkness, the American emerges upon the stage of history as a new character, as puzzling to himself as to others. American Humor, Constance Rourke?s pioneering ?study of the national character,? singles out the archetypal figures of the Yankee peddler, the backwoodsman, and the blackface minstrel to illuminate the fundamental role of popular culture in fashioning a distinctive American sensibility. A memorable performance in its own right, American Humor crackles with the jibes and jokes of generations while presenting a striking picture of a vagabond nation in perpetual self-pursuit. Davy Crockett and Henry James, Jim Crow and Emily Dickinson rub shoulders in a work that inspired such later critics as Pauline Kael and Lester Bangs and which still has much to say about the America of Bob Dylan and Thomas Pynchon, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush."

Derrick Jensen, As the World Burns: 50 Simple Things You Can Do to Stay in Denial

Gary Snyder, Back on the Fire: Essays

Peter S. Wells, Barbarians to Angels: The Dark Ages Reconsidered

, Bitter Fruits of Bondage: The Demise of Slavery and the Collapse of the Confederacy, 1861-1865

Martin Parr, Boring Postcards USA

David Hackett Fischer, Champlain’s Dream

Tom Piazza, City of Refuge: A Novel

William McDonough, Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things

Adrienne Cecile Rich, Dark Fields of the Republic: Poems 1991-1995

Twain, Mark, Autobiography of Mark Twain (University of California Press, 2010)
"Wry and cranky, droll and cantankerous ? that?s the Mark Twain we think we know, thanks to reading ?Huck Finn? and ?Tom Sawyer? in high school. But in his unexpurgated autobiography, whose first volume is about to be published a century after his death, a very different Twain emerges, more pointedly political and willing to play the role of the angry prophet." -NY Times

Bill McKibben, Deep Economy

Joe Bageant, Deer Hunting with Jesus: Dispatches from America’s Class War

Don DeLillo, End Zone

David Wildman, Ending the Us War in Afghanistan: A Primer

John Crowley, Endless Things: A part of Aegypt

Michael Knox Beran, Forge of Empires: Three Revolutionary Statesmen and the World They Made, 1861-1871

Timothy Gray, Gary Snyder and the Pacific Rim: Creating Countercultural Community (Contemp North American Poetry)

Chesa Boudin, Gringo: A Coming of Age in Latin America

Andy Merrifield, Henri Lefebvre : A Critical Introduction

David R. Roediger, How Race Survived U.S. History from Settlement And Slavery to the Obama Phenomenon

Mike Winslow, Lake Champlain: A Natural History

M. John Harrison, Light

Apostolos Doxiadis, Logicomix: An Epic Search for Truth

David Grinspoon, Lonely Planets: The Natural Philosophy of Alien Life

Richard Price, Lush Life: A Novel

Eric W. Sanderson, Mannahatta: A Natural History of New York City

Robert Bly, Morning Poems

, Mountain Home: The Wilderness Poetry of Ancient China

Gary Snyder, Mountains and Rivers Without End: Poem

Frans G. Bengtsson, The Long Ships (New York Review Books, 2010)
"Resurrects the fantastic world of the tenth century AD when the Vikings roamed and rampaged from the northern fastnesses of Scandinavia down to the Mediterranean." -publisher

Wynton Marsalis, Moving to Higher Ground: How Jazz Can Change Your Life

Paul Graham, Hackers and Painters: Big Ideas from the Computer Age (O')
Written in clear, narrative style, Hackers & Painters examines issues such as the rightness of web-based applications, the programming language renaissance, spam filtering, the Open Source Movement, internet startups and more. In each essay, Graham moves beyond widely held beliefs about the way that programmers work as he tells important stories about the kinds of people behind tech innovations, revealing distinctions about their characters and their craft.

Naschek, Melissa, "The Identity Mistake" (Jacobin, 2018)

Gray, Briahna, "Beware the Race Reductionist" (The Intercept, 2018)