Get notified of Words&Dirt updates

Tag: evil

Review: Michael Lewis’s “The Fifth Risk”

Michael Lewis has emerged as a critical figure in the modern American quest for self-understanding. Even for readers like me who’ve never picked up one of his books, his reputation as a kind of national “explainer-in-chief” looms large. I’m not sure what exactly drew me to The Fifth Risk instead of his better-known works, but I’m guessing [...]

Review: Derek Parfit’s “Reasons and Persons”

Every now and then, I come across a book that painfully reveals the limitations of my intellect and critical faculties. Derek Parfit’s Reasons and Persons is one such book. This dense, esoteric text coaxed me right up to the cliff’s edge of my philosophical comprehension, and then shoved me off without ceremony. Even so, I had a [...]

Review: Barbara Kingsolver’s “The Poisonwood Bible”

Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible is an unmistakably brilliant book that didn’t quite work for me. Like the Congo jungle in which the majority of the novel takes place, Kingsolver’s prose is dense and overflowing with biotic energy: Imagine a ruin so strange it must never have happened. First, picture the forest. I want you to be [...]

Review: Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt’s “The Coddling of the American Mind”

The Coddling of the American Mind is a book that every American should read. While this was my first encounter with author Greg Lukianoff, I’ve long respected and followed the work of his coauthor, Jonathan Haidt. In the early 2010s, Haidt’s The Righteous Mind was one of my gateway texts into the field of moral psychology, which has captivated [...]

Review: Adam Hochschild’s “King Leopold’s Ghost”

I am fortunate to have a mother who recommended this book and a father-in-law who gifted it to me. Given their convergent enthusiasm for this fascinating but grim piece of history, I expected something unique. Even so, I was unprepared for the wild ride of Adam Hochschild’s King Leopold’s Ghost. This book is a quintessential example [...]

Review: Ilona Andrews’s “Magic Triumphs”

If you’re unfamiliar with the Kate Daniels series, please stop reading this immediately and heed the words of Ilona Andrews: “If you’ve never read us before, and this is your first Kate book, thank you for buying it, but please put it down and find a copy of Magic Bites” (Acknowledgements). This directive isn’t just a [...]

Review: Richard Wright’s “Black Boy”

Recently, the desire arose in me to read something that might help me better understand the internal perspectives of African-Americans and my country’s ignominious legacy of slavery. My mother, who spent a long career teaching American history to undergraduates, recommended Richard Wright’s autobiography, Black Boy. And although I expected the book to be good, I didn’t anticipate [...]

Review: Peter Watts’s “The Freeze-Frame Revolution”

I’ll be the first to admit that Peter Watts’s The Freeze-Frame Revolution might be a better book than I’m willing to give it credit for. It was nice to take another trip into the mind-bending ideas and dark humor for which Watts is rightly loved, but I found myself unable to sink into this novella in a [...]

Review: Audrey Schulman’s “Theory of Bastards”

I expect any worthwhile novel to touch on a smattering of my intellectual interests, weaving them together in a fresh and entertaining fashion. It is rare, however, for a single story to engage with a manifold range of subjects about which I am deeply passionate, and rarer still for that synthesis to prove itself more [...]

Review: Cixin Liu’s “Remembrance of Earth’s Past”

Cixin’s Liu’s Remembrance of Earth’s Past is a perfect and peerless narrative achievement. Not only is it the best piece of science fiction I’ve ever read, but it would also be a strong contender for my favorite story of all time. I think that giving away any major plot points or world-building features would do a disservice [...]