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Books

This book cover image released by Gotham shows "The Crossword Century: 100 Years of Witty Wordplay, Ingenious Puzzles, and Linguistic Mischief," by Alan Connor. (AP Photo/Gotham)

Author’s ode to crosswords is right on the mark with ‘Crossword Century’

Sunday, August 31, 2014

If you love solving crosswords, you know how it feels to be in the fraternity. There’s the rush of matching wits with a mysterious puzzle-maker, the thrill of nailing an elusive answer and the satisfaction of filling in the final square. There’s a charm in playing the game, a charm that can be hard to describe. But Alan Connor, a British quizmaster who writes a column on crosswords for the Guardian newspaper, is more than up to the challenge. Connor is the author of The Crossword Century: 100 Years of Witty Wordplay, Ingenious Puzzles, and Linguistic Mischief. The book details the history and evolution of … 0

‘Harold and Jack’ a persuasive account of world leaders’ accidental friendship

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Christopher Sandford begins this account of the relationship between British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan and American President John F. Kennedy with a meeting between the two in southern England. It occurred in June 1963, at which point Kennedy had been in office for 29 months and had weathered severe tests around the world, … 0

‘Field Guide’ highlights D.C.’s beauty

Sunday, August 31, 2014

There are major cities around the world where humans seem to have excluded nature by extruding concrete. Washington isn’t one of them. With its low skyline, two languid rivers and a stream named Rock Creek that could keep a Romantic poet inspired for years, the District is a city that embraces the natural … 0

An unlikely odyssey and an even more uncommon bond between soldier and translator

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

It was off the beaten path that retired U.S. Marine Lt. Col. Michael Moffett first heard about Fahim Fazli. Moffett, a lifelong New Hampshire resident, was in Afghanistan’s volatile Helmand Province in 2010 on assignment as a field … 0

‘Locust’ a dark and fantastical tale

Sunday, August 3, 2014

The stories we tell to explain autism go back centuries. The Celts believed fairies stole healthy babies and replaced them with elfin spirits. Bruno Bettelheim insisted the problem was cold, witchy mothers. Later, pediatricians and needles would be … 0

‘Lies’ a study of WWI virtues

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Unlike the books in Jacqueline Winspear’s popular Maisie Dobbs series, The Care and Management of Lies is not a mystery – although its scenes of World War I trench warfare certainly leave a reader in suspense. As much … 0

‘Book of Life’ crowded, complicated

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Time-tripping witch and scholar Diana Bishop returns in The Book of Life, the final installment of Deborah Harkness’s best-selling “All Souls” trilogy. When last encountered in Shadow of Night, Diana and her husband, aristo vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont, … 0

American Life in Poetry: Punching holes in the sky

Sunday, August 3, 2014

At one point in Gene Wolfe’s Book of the New Sun, a story set on a far-future Earth lapsed into a Dark Age, the narrator glimpses a “warrior of a dead world” in an enigmatic picture hanging in … 0

Michaelangelo bio odd but not bad

Sunday, August 3, 2014

In this enjoyable but curious biography, art historian Miles J. Unger presents the High Renaissance master Michelangelo Buonarroti through six of his major works: the Pieta, David, two segments of the Sistine Chapel frescos (the Creation of Adam … 0

‘The Beans of Egypt, Maine’ a spectacular, quirky read

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Carolyn Chute’s blockbuster novel The Beans of Egypt, Maine was a New York Times best-seller and Book-of-the-Month Club selection. It is about the impoverished townspeople of fictitious Egypt, Maine, told with total honesty and brutal detail. The author … 0

‘Dry Bones’ a disturbing debut for Bouman

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Tom Bouman is a serious writer – literate, understated, elegant – and Dry Bones in the Valley is an exciting and disturbing debut. His detective, Henry Farrell, comes alive in a way that pulls us into his story from our first glimpse of him barefoot on his porch … 0

Dystopian ‘California’ amusing, if not convincing

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The environment is a disaster. Government has failed. Food is scarce. Untreatable viruses run rampant. Humans have lost the ability to reproduce. Welcome to the robust genre of post-apocalyptic dystopian fiction, otherwise known as “something really bad happened … 1

Another author boosted by ‘Colbert Bump’

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The “Colbert Bump” is becoming contagious. Edan Lepucki, whose novel California became a best-seller thanks to a plug from Stephen Colbert, has in turn helped another book catch on. During an interview on Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report … 0