Richard J. Evans’ The Pursuit Of Power: Europe, 1815-1914

Sir Richard J. Evans, formerly a professor of history at Cambridge University, knighted for his contributions to historical scholarship, is most famous to the public for a trilogy of books he penned on Hitler’s Third Reich: The Coming of the […]

William Gaddis’ The Rush for Second Place

I picked up the posthumously published The Rush for Second Place, a collection of the essays and miscellaneous non-fiction of William Gaddis, in preparation for reading his 1955 opus The Recognitions, widely considered the best American novel of the 20th […]

Fernando Pessoa’s A Little Larger Than the Entire Universe: Selected Poems

The twin pleasures of my August involved reading the poetry of Portuguese master Fernando Pessoa in tandem with Richard Zenith’s recently released 900-page biography of the poet. Zenith is the scholar-translator Pessoa deserves, an American now living in Portugal who […]

Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky’s Unwitting Street

My August reading was dominated by two writers who were overlooked in their own lifetimes, and who have recently been resurrected to great acclaim in the English-speaking world. The first of these is Fernando Pessoa, the Portuguese poet whose verses […]

Robert Wuthnow’s The Left Behind

One of the better books to emerge from the autopsy of the 2016 American presidential election belonged to Princeton’s Robert Wuthnow, a sociologist, Director of the Princeton University Center for the Study of Religion, and the editor of the prestigious […]

Thom Gunn’s Selected Poems

My introduction to the British poet Thom Gunn (1929-2004) came via Oliver Sacks, whose beautiful memoir On The Move, written shortly before his death, took its title from one of Gunn’s poems. The two men shared much in common: both […]

Michael Dirda’s Book by Book: Notes on Reading and Life

For nearly 50 years, readers of the Washington Post have been privileged to have one of America’s best literary critics as their resident reviewer. Michael Dirda was the deserving victor of the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism in 1993, and the […]

Juan Rulfo’s Pedro Páramo

I’ve recently discovered the hidden places on the Internet where book lovers across the world meet to discuss and share favourite works or argue over the merits of an author or era, and Pedro Páramo, the only novel by Mexican […]

Janet Malcolm’s Forty-One False Starts

Janet Malcolm passed away a few short months ago, and aside from the handful of New Yorker articles of hers I haphazardly read over the years, she was little more than a name to me. This book was an attempt […]

Jeffrey Burton Russell’s Satan: The Early Christian Tradition

The second book in religious historian Jeffrey Burton Russell’s five-volume biography of the Devil, aptly titled Satan, picks up where The Devil left off, covering the “early Christian tradition” and its vigorous debates over the nature of God, the devil […]

Osip Mandelstam’s Black Earth

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, who not only lived to witness the collapse of the Soviet Union but played a major role in bringing it about, once observed that, “For a country to have a great writer […] is like having another government. […]

Theodore Dalrymple’s Not With A Bang But A Whimper

Something I’ve been wondering, of late: did the Romans of the fourth century AD know that their empire was in decline? Certainly there were philosophers and politicians expressing their dismay, but did the average man and woman know that their […]

Augustine Sedgewick’s Coffeeland

No single product better exemplifies our global world than coffee, produced somewhere and consumed everywhere. Millions of people have come to take their morning cup for granted, incorporating it into their daily lives, relying on its caffeine injection to get […]

Julio Cortázar’s Blow-Up And Other Stories

The Brussels-born Argentinian writer Julio Cortázar was one of the figureheads of the Latin American Boom, the literary movement that introduced Europe and eventually the English-speaking world to the remarkable talents of South America – Peru’s Mario Vargas Llosa, Colombia’s […]

James J. Heckman’s Giving Kids A Fair Chance

There is a very easy and reliable way to measure the sincerity of someone bemoaning “inequality,” one of the most loaded words in modern politics, and that is to assess their focus on early childhood development. Long before two people […]