Category » Book Reviews

True wit is Nature to advantage dressed,
What oft was thought, but ne'er so well expressed;
Something whose truth convinced at sight we find,
That gives us back the image of our mind.
-Alexander Pope

Paul Fussell’s Class

My entirely accidental discovery of the late Paul Fussell was one of the high points of October, and his 1983 book Class: A Guide Through the American Class System kept me in good humour through what was an otherwise cold […]

Janice Fiamengo’s Sons Of Feminism

My introduction to Janice Fiamengo came seven years ago, when she gave a presentation at the University of Toronto entitled “What’s Wrong With Women’s Studies?” The presentation itself was delayed, owing to the efforts of the usual cabal of rabble-rousing […]

Christopher Lasch’s Women And The Common Life

According to his daughter, Elisabeth Lasch-Quinn, who helped assemble and introduce this collection of Christopher Lasch’s essays, the impetus for their writing came from reading both Jean-Jacques Rousseau and François Poullain de la Barre – two writers famous for this […]

Yukio Mishima’s Life For Sale

Motivated, no doubt, by Mishima’s rapidly ascending reputation in the West, publishers in Britain and the United States have finally translated his 1968 novel Life For Sale, bringing it to English-speaking audiences for the first time. It is just the […]

William Giraldi’s Hold The Dark

William Giraldi’s debut novel, Busy Monsters, was one of the first books I reviewed on this blog, more than seven years ago now. It was a bold and inventive comedy, emblematic of the mind behind it, and I doubt I […]

Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises

It was Gertrude Stein who coined the famous phrase “lost generation” to describe the unlucky men and women who came of age during the cataclysm of the First World War, but it was Hemingway who made it famous, using it […]

Peter Moskos’ Cop In The Hood

HBO’s police procedural drama The Wire made the Baltimore drug trade – and the incredible crime and violence it creates – familiar to American television watchers, but in roughly the same time period that the show was taking place, a young […]

Derek Raymond’s How The Dead Live

Derek Raymond’s Factory series has the grim allure of a corpse. No matter how many times I turn the final page of one of these books, eager to escape the blight and despair of England’s criminal underworld in the 1980s, […]

Edmund Wilson’s The Triple Thinkers

Edmund Wilson has fallen into relative obscurity at the moment, but for much of the 20th century he was America’s preeminent literary critic – and that at a time when literary criticism still had some purchase on the cultural mainstream. […]

Joseph Frank’s Dostoevsky: The Miraculous Years, 1865-1871

With this fourth book in Joseph Frank’s five-volume biography of Dostoevsky, we approach the apex of Dostoevsky’s career as a writer, for in the five-year period between 1865 and 1871, he will write three masterpieces in rapid succession: Crime and […]

William Julius Wilson’s When Work Disappears

William Julius Wilson is a professor of sociology at Harvard University (formerly of the University of Chicago), a one-time President of the American Sociological Association, the author of a number of hugely influential books on race and urban poverty, and […]

Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime And Punishment

I see by the inscription inside my copy that it has been nearly ten years to the month since my last reading of Crime And Punishment. I perfectly remember where I was when I first sat down to read it, […]

John Williams’ Augustus

Fittingly, I finish my reading of the novels of John Williams with his last published novel, written some 22 years before his death. Augustus was the sole of his four published works to receive real acclaim, winning the 1973 National […]

Glenn Loury’s The Anatomy of Racial Inequality

Glenn Loury is a professor of economics at Brown University and the host of The Glenn Show, a podcast sponsored by the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, where I first discovered him some years ago. I have been […]

Peter Hitchens’ The Abolition Of Britain

Speaking as a self-described Anglophile, one of the saddest images produced in recent months was of the statue of Winston Churchill in London’s Parliament Square encased in a massive box, designed to protect it from the inevitable vandalism and abuse […]