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Deb Baker, columnist

The Mindful Reader: Debunking ‘kids today’ theories

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

In The Myth of the Spoiled Child, Alfie Kohn uses some of his previous theories on the problem with rewards, homework and competition to debunk the prevailing view that “kids today” are overindulged, overprotected narcissists, and that their helicopter parents made them that way. Given his earlier research, he wondered what evidence supported such anecdotes. He notes that many of … 0

New John Wayne biography hits target dead center

Sunday, April 6, 2014

“John Wayne: The Life and Legend” (Simon & Schuster), by Scott Eyman Who’s that on the cover of Scott Eyman’s splendid biography of Hollywood’s most enduring movie star? Surely that wavy-haired young fellow in the suit and tie isn’t John Wayne. Where’s the Stetson, the Winchester rifle, the six-shooter, the boots and spurs? … 0

’Love & War’: Unlikely story of love and politics

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Love & War is the unlikely love story of one of America’s best-known power couples and how their marriage has survived despite their sharply different political views. The subtitle of the book by Mary Matalin and James Carville is Twenty years, three presidents, two daughters and one Louisiana home. That offers a hint … 0

‘Sitcom’: A history

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Lucy. Mary. Hawkeye. Norm. Kramer. Homer. To borrow from the Cheers theme song, everybody knows the names of these classic situation comedy characters. In Sitcom, Saul Austerlitz shows how these weekly, 30-minute programs have evolved to become an … 0

The making of modern-day Russian dissidents

Sunday, February 23, 2014

What makes someone into a dissident? Why do some people give up everything – home, family, job – to embark on a career of protest? Or, to put it differently, why, on Feb. 21, 2012, did a group … 0

‘Guardian’ columnist gives full picture of Snowden leak

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The denunciations of Edward Snowden have been accompanied by an unconvincing refrain – that there was a way for him to force a debate on the U.S. surveillance programs that troubled him without exposing America’s espionage capabilities to … 0

Dickensian cast of World’s Fair characters captivates

Sunday, February 23, 2014

World expositions have long provided evocative settings for literary fare, from E.L. Doctorow’s National Book Award-winning World’s Fair (1985) to Erik Larson’s mega-best-seller The Devil in the White City (2003) to Jim Lynch’s portrait of the 1962 Seattle … 0

One magic month: Panoply of authors set for Gibson’s Bookstore

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

From sci-fi machinations to genocide survivors to mysterious murders to insider baseball on basketball and the boardroom, Gibson’s Bookstore is gearing up for an eclectic month of visiting authors. The bookstore will kick off its cavalcade of writers … 0

Endearing life of Stevenson

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Wives are enjoying a star turn in popular culture – from the surgically altered Real Housewives of New Jersey and Beverly Hills to the wives and not-quite wives of famous men whose scintillating stories are fueling a historical … 0

Novel of ideas, an integrated utopian society

Sunday, February 16, 2014

‘What We’ve Lost Is Nothing, an interesting first novel by Washington, D.C., area journalist Rachel Louise Snyder, is actually more of an essay on the effects of social engineering. It’s set in the Chicago suburb of Oak Park, … 0

Books: The importance of the Staples Singers

Sunday, February 16, 2014

The 1970s are often thought of as a time when big, utopian dreams were scrapped for cramped, personal hopes. That zeitgeist known as the Sixties – all those fraught, sometimes fatal struggles for sociopolitical freedom and, too, for … 0

‘Le Grand Meaulnes ’ : Classic French novel repackaged for its 100th birthday

Sunday, February 16, 2014

For its 100th birthday, Le Grand Meaulnes, translated by Frank Davison as The Lost Domain, has been handsomely repackaged with a ribbon for a bookmark – an honor befitting a classic French novel that can haunt the reader … 0

San Francisco’s cultural tome ends just right with ‘The Days of Anna Madrigal’

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Armistead Maupin was born in Washington, D.C., but we’ll always think of him in San Francisco. Tales of the City, his account of life among the sexually diverse inhabitants of San Francisco’s 28 Barbary Lane, began life as … 0