More than 850 book reviews

Nonfiction rss

A very funny book about words, grammar, and dictionaries(0)

June 20, 2017

Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries, by Kory Stamper @@@@@ (5 out of 5) When you think of dictionaries, chances are good the ones that would come to mind are the Merriam-Webster Collegiate and the Oxford English Dictionary (as well as whatever comes up online). Did I get that right? Certainly, those are… Read More ›

13 good recent books about American foreign policy

In recent years I’ve read and reviewed 13 nonfiction books published in the 21st Century about aspects of American foreign policy. I’m listing them here, in alphabetical order by the authors’ last names. Each title is linked to my longer review. The Blood Telegram: Nixon, Kissinger, and a Forgotten Genocide, by Gary J. Bass Though… Read More ›

Al Franken’s memoir is revealing, insightful—and funny

Al Franken, Giant of the Senate, by Al Franken @@@@@ (5 out of 5) If you’re expecting nonstop laughs from Al Franken’s memoir, Al Franken, Giant of the Senate, you’ll be disappointed. Naturally, the book is laced with Franken’s signature humor. He rarely passes up an opportunity to go for a laugh. That even begins with… Read More ›

The astonishing story of Hedy Lamarr, Hollywood star and inventor

On “Science Friday” (June 2, 2017), which I heard on my local NPR station, KQED, host Ira Flatow interviewed author Richard Rhodes and Diane Kruger about Hedy Lamarr. Rhodes wrote the book reviewed here. Kruger will star in a film and TV mini-series based on Lamarr’s life. Because of the increased interest in that amazing woman,… Read More ›

What Trump voters believe: a Berkeley sociologist goes to the source

Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right, by Arlie Russell Hochschild @@@@@ (5 out of 5) In her ninth book, UC Berkeley sociologist Arlie Russell Hochschild confronts her alarm “at the increasingly hostile split in our nation between two political camps.” Strangers in Their Own Land, a Finalist for the… Read More ›

The case that helped put the FBI on the map

Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI, by David Grann @@@@@ (5 out of 5) When Christopher Columbus arrived in the New World, an estimated 50 million people lived in the Hemisphere. Somewhere between seven and 18 million of them inhabited North America. By 1890, the population of… Read More ›

Is philanthropy good for America?

The Givers: Wealth, Power, and Philanthropy in a New Gilded Age, by David Callahan @@@@ (4 out of 5) Few Americans appreciate the extraordinary scope and depth of philanthropy in our country. In 2015, the most recent year for which reliable estimates are available, Americans contributed a total of $373 billion to what is loosely… Read More ›

Why Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 election

Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign, by Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes @@@@@ (5 out of 5) How did Hillary Clinton lose an election she was so widely expected to win? How did Donald Trump win that election despite abundant evidence that he was unprepared and ill-suited to hold the office? Two journalists, Jonathan Allen… Read More ›

Noam Chomsky on the concentration of wealth and its consequences

Requiem for the American Dream: The 10 Principles of Concentration of Wealth & Power, by Noam Chomsky @@@@@ (4 out of 5) For decades, economic scholars have commented on the dangers inherent in the growing concentration of wealth in Western society. Though misleadingly referred to as “income inequality” in the new media, this critically important… Read More ›

Surveying the future of technology in the mid-21st century

Megatech: Technology in 2050, edited by Daniel Franklin @@@@ (4 out of 5) The concluding chapter in The Economist‘s new book, Megatech: Technology in 2050, highlights “the central role of capitalism” in driving the demand for new technology. The preceding 19 chapters justify that reading, for the most part indirectly. That should be no surprise… Read More ›