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Review: Richard Rothstein’s “The Color of Law”

It would be difficult to enumerate all the ways I benefitted and continue to benefit from the geographic circumstances of my upbringing. As a child in Northern California, I assumed that all Americans had relatively equal access to clean air and water, healthy food, comfortable shelter, good schools, and nature. My parents and teachers assured [...]

Review: Claire North’s “The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August”

Claire North’s The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August is the fantastical tale of a man with a peculiar affliction––or a gift, depending on your point of view. Harry August is born a British citizen in 1919, lives an undistinguished life as a groundskeeper, and dies seventy years later. But instead of entering an afterlife or [...]

Review: Chris Arnade’s “Dignity”

In winter 1993, journalist David Simon and ex-policeman Edward Burns began conducting what would become a full year of daily interviews on a drug corner on Fayette Street in West Baltimore. They became familiar with the residents, many of whom were heroin and cocaine addicts and drug dealers. Simon and Burns recorded their experiences and, [...]

Review: Richard Powers’s “The Overstory”

I grew up and still reside in Humboldt County, California. My body-mind came of age amidst giant Redwoods and Douglas Firs, many of which grace my family’s six-acre parcel. It’s no exaggeration to say that these majestic beings were my companions and castles, brimming with all the mysterious life-energy a boy’s imagination could ever need. [...]

Review: Ezra Klein’s “Why We’re Polarized”

Ezra Klein is one of the best political analysts of my generation, and is quickly becoming one of our most important public intellectuals. The Ezra Klein Show produces top-quality audio content several times a week, and Klein’s keen interviewing skills, nuanced articulations of complex problems, and commitment to structural analysis are second to none. I’ve been anticipating the [...]

Review: Sayaka Murata’s “Convenience Store Woman”

Sayaka Murata’s Convenience Store Woman is a diminutive and disturbing novel. The story is conveyed through the first person observations of Keiko Furukura, a woman in her mid-thirties who works in a convenience store in Tokyo. During her disconnected and occasionally violent childhood, Keiko concludes that “keeping my mouth shut was the most sensible approach to getting by [...]

Review: Amor Towles’s “A Gentleman in Moscow”

What does a society desperate to escape monarchic domination do with a plucky, refined member of its extant aristocracy? In Amor Towles’s enchanting portrait of post-revolutionary Russia, the answer is to place him under permanent house arrest in The Metropol, Moscow’s most renowned hotel. He will be stripped of his titles, his luxurious lodgings, and [...]

Review: Stephen Wolfram’s “Adventures of a Computational Explorer”

Note: Wolfram Research, Inc. was kind enough to send me a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. If there were a contest for the world’s most self-satisfied human, I’d nominate Stephen Wolfram. This brainiac was publishing physics papers at the age of 15, received a PhD at 20, wrote a [...]

My Year of Bookish Wisdom: 2019

My Year of Bookish Wisdom 2019: War is Present and Peace is Possible As 2019 comes to a close, people around the world will be using the arbitrary milestone of a new decade to reflect on the last ten years and plan for the next ten. I wish I could say that either of these [...]

Review: Leo Tolstoy’s “War and Peace”

After a captivating but ultimately bitter encounter with Anna Karenina last year, I was worried that Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace would produce similar results. To my surprise and delight, however, War and Peace helped me finally understand why Tolstoy’s work occupies such an important position in literary history. Those determined enough to commit to this epic novel will discover a [...]