Frank Dikötter’s The Tragedy Of Liberation

Consider for a moment the fate of the three most murderous regimes of the 20th century. Hitler’s Third Reich was vanquished by the combined might of the Allied powers, and his ideology thoroughly discredited. German schoolchildren visit Holocaust museums and […]

Émile Zola’s Germinal

Within France, Émile Zola is something of a national hero, though his present popularity obscures the acrimony with which many of his compatriots viewed him. It was Zola, after all, who published the famous “J’Accuse…!” column condemning the government’s rush […]

Steven Galloway’s Finnie Walsh

Steven Galloway is perhaps Canada’s most promising young writer, and certainly Canada’s most internationally celebrated young author, but his professional achievements have been overshadowed by scandal. In 2015, Galloway was suspended from his teaching position at the prestigious University of […]

Leonard Gardner’s Fat City

For a boxing novel, there is conspicuously little fighting in Fat City; the brutality is provided by Leonard Gardner’s expert descriptions of Stockton, California, a dilapidated industrial city, and the lives of the men and women surviving there in the late 1950s. Two […]

Thomas Chatterton Williams’ Losing My Cool

I first encountered Thomas Chatterton Williams’ writing three years ago, in the London Review of Books, where he reviewed Ta-Nehisi Coates’ best-selling memoir Between the World and Me with that rare mixture of sympathy and skepticism characteristic of the true critic, and […]

Richard J. Evans’ The Third Reich At War

The third and final volume in Cambridge historian Richard J. Evans’ monumentally ambitious history of the Third Reich begins with the Nazi invasion of Poland in 1939 and does not conclude until the fate of the last Nazis – those […]

John Williams’ Butcher’s Crossing

I knew little about John Williams and less about his 1960 novel Butcher’s Crossing when I purchased it, on a whim, at a local bookstore, but my curiosity has been repaid a thousand times over. Ostensibly a western, Butcher’s Crossing […]

Oscar Wilde’s The Picture Of Dorian Gray

In anticipation of reading Richard Ellmann’s much-acclaimed biography of Oscar Wilde, I have been working my way through his poems and plays, either refreshing my memory or encountering, for the first time, the works that justify his fame. Among the […]

Goethe’s The Sorrows Of Young Werther

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe achieved international renown in 1774 upon the publication of his first novel, The Sorrows Of Young Werther. It had all the qualities that characterized the later Romantic movement, of which it was an important precursor: strong […]

Richard J. Evans’ The Third Reich In Power

The second volume of Richard J. Evans’ trilogy of history books covering Nazi Germany, The Third Reich In Power, begins where the first left off, in 1933, with Hitler recently appointed Chancellor of Germany by the aging Hindenburg, and concludes […]