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The men who ‘may be everything’

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Thomas Jefferson’s description of the presidency as a “splendid misery” is often quoted. Less remembered is his comment on the vice presidency, an office he considered “honorable and easy.” Few readers of syndicated columnist Jules Witcover’s compendium of short portraits of the nation’s vice presidents will agree. In The American Vice Presidency: From Irrelevance to Power, Witcover maintains that for much of American history, the vice presidency “had little significance or utility in governing the nation’s affairs” – a reality that was all too apparent to the men who occupied the office until relatively late in the 20th century. Close to presidential power but denied …

‘World of PostSecret’ a vivid mosaic of life

Sunday, December 21, 2014

People literally have shared a ton of secrets with Frank Warren. Ten years ago, the Germantown, Md., resident launched a “community art project” with the goal of collecting 365 postcards bearing anonymous senders’ artfully depicted secrets. He got a bunch and started sharing them on a blog, A phenomenon was born: Warren …

‘I Must Say’ Martin Short’s endearing memoir

Sunday, December 21, 2014

One of Martin Short’s great on-screen moments arrives in John Landis’s 1986 comedy, ¡Three Amigos! in which he played a silent-film star alongside Steve Martin and Chevy Chase. Early in the movie, an unwitting village sends the trio a telegram begging to be rescued from an “infamous” outlaw known as El Guapo. “What …

Publisher plans to put Senate’s CIA report on shelves

Sunday, December 21, 2014

A paperback version of the Senate’s recently released report on the CIA’s interrogation techniques is expected in bookstores before New Year’s Day. The government posted the 528-page document for free online the week before last, and a PDF ebook version was almost immediately for sale on for …

Review: ‘Five’ by Ursula Archer is intriguing

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Geocaching – the contemporary treasure hunt in which a GPS is used to find hidden objects – lends itself to an intriguing melding of a gripping police procedural and an exciting update of the puzzle mystery in Austrian …

Black Captain America leading comic book diversity

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

For decades, comic books have been in color, but now they truly reflect all the hues of American society. The new Captain America is black. A Superman who is suspiciously similar to President Obama recently headlined a comic …

‘Killer Heels’ looks at the history of high heels

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Shakespeare mentions high heels in Hamlet, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg praised them and fashion designers from Dior to Manolo Blahnik have bewitched women and men with their versions. Killer Heels: The Art of the High-Heeled Shoe is a luxurious, fun and sexy look at the history …

The Mindful Reader: A sensible approach to mental strength

Sunday, December 14, 2014

My son saw my review copy of 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do by Amy Morin and said it’s all over social media, even though it’s not officially out until Jan. 1. Which is fitting, because the …

‘First Impressions’ wooden yet the author’s passion is hard to resist

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Charlie Lovett’s best-selling debut, The Bookman’s Tale, was an ­ old-fashioned suspenseful romp spanning centuries and continents and peppered with romance, skulduggery, forgery and murder, all driven by one of the enduring questions of literary scholarship: Was Shakespeare …

‘My True Love Gave to Me’ a plummy treat

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Love is in the peppermint-scented air in these 12 playful, often touching holiday tales, each by a popular young-adult author. There’s flirting and yearning – even an elf prom – amid the fir trees in a collection that …

11 Children’s books to add to your gift-giving list

Sunday, December 14, 2014

My kids loved Holly Hobbie’s I’ll Be Home for Christmas because it was full of holiday excitement and hushed wonder and plucky pink pigs. I loved it because it was a surprisingly soulful meditation on the push and …

First Alice Munro collection since Nobel Prize

Sunday, December 14, 2014

A year after Alice Munro won the Nobel Prize for literature and was cited for her mastery of the modern short story, her publisher has collected 24 of her stories published over the past two decades. Family Furnishings …

Karen Pirie is on the case in ‘The Skeleton Road’

Sunday, December 7, 2014

In The Skeleton Road, Val McDermid melds the political thriller with the police procedural for an intense novel that gives equal attention to each genre. McDermid pulls together a complicated tale of war and its aftermath for a …