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Books

Writer in pursuit of civil rights

Saturday, April 18, 2015

“If not for the triumph of the civil rights movement, I don’t know where I would be, but there is no way on God’s Earth I would be writing a column for the Washington Post,” Eugene Robinson wrote recently in the pages of the newspaper. James McGrath Morris’ new biography of pioneering journalist Ethel Payne illustrates how African-American reporters shaped and were shaped by the freedom struggle. Payne’s storied career took her from Chicago to Washington, to the Deep South and across the globe. In that career’s every phase, Payne was animated by the principle that journalists, and the black press in particular, must be …

’American Warlord’ follows Chucky Taylor from US to Liberia

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Chucky Taylor’s 2008 trial in Miami federal court was a sort of homecoming for a young man whose adolescence in Florida had been like so many others bored with the suburbs and longing for absent fathers. The surreal journey Taylor took from Florida to Liberia and then back to stand trial for torture …

Coal and its future are fueling conflicts around the globe

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Fierce conflicts over coal are taking place around the globe, but author Richard Martin says the decline and ultimate demise of the fuel that powered the Industrial Revolution is inevitable and cannot be reversed. What he cannot predict, he says, is whether the transition to energy sources that are less damaging to the …

Getting retribution over childhood bullies

Sunday, March 29, 2015

What becomes of bullies when they grow up? Do they evolve into decent, kind human beings, or does their capacity for malice grow along with their bodies? Allen Kurzweil explores this issue – and much more – in …

Big data

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Even if we aren’t certain what to make of big data, we all know that it’s, well, big. The phrase is suddenly everywhere, tripping off the tongue in domains from marketing to management to medicine. Newly massive and …

Heartrending and warm

Sunday, March 29, 2015

When Scott Simon began tweeting pain, love and conversation from his mother’s deathbed in an intensive-care unit in July 2013, he turned personal grief into collective emotion. Sharing painful moments and insights – “I just realized: she once …

Misfits weave through others’ lives

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Assemble a group of wildly different characters – young and old, rich and poor, black and white, gay and straight. Throw them together – on an L.A. highway (Crash), in a steamy Southern city (Nashville), or in Times …

Long lost film illuminates 1938 Poland

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

In the spring of 2009, Glenn Kurtz uncovered a roll of 71-year-old film in his parents’ Florida basement. Deteriorated and shrunken with age, the film was just months away from being completely unwatchable. Instead, it became a rare …

Author defies categorization

Sunday, March 22, 2015

There are authors who write in tidy, classifiable, immediately recognizable genres – Jane Austen, Alexandre Dumas, William Faulkner, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, to name a few – and then there are those who adamantly do not. These others can …

A haunting tale

Sunday, March 22, 2015

M.J. Rose writes compelling tales with a gothic flair, and her latest novel, The Witch of Painted Sorrows, is her most heartfelt yet. Paris in 1894 is a vastly different society than what is experienced in today’s modern …

Explore Ian Fleming’s Jamaican retreat

Sunday, March 22, 2015

James Bond is a British icon, but the fictional spy hero really was born in Jamaica, just as the Caribbean island gained its independence from the waning British empire. The relationship between Bond’s author, Ian Fleming, and the …

‘Sapiens’: a struggle of morality versus existance

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Yuval Noah Harari is an emerging rock-star lecturer operating at the nexus of history and science. In a recent talk at Google on “Silicon Prophets,” he stunned the audience by convincing them that the most interesting place in …

Art heist history detailed in ‘Master Thieves’

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Twenty-five years ago this week, as Boston’s St. Patrick’s Day revelries eased into the wee hours of March 18, 1990, two men impersonating police officers entered the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and made off with 13 works of …