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Tag: farming

Review: Leo Tolstoy’s “Anna Karenina”

“All successful books are alike; each failed book fails in its own way.” So reads my ungainly rehashing of one of literature’s most famous opening lines. It takes a fair bit of temerity and not a little arrogance to posit that one of the great works of literary history is a failure, but that is [...]

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: Lauren Groff’s “Arcadia”

For the first hundred pages or so, Lauren Groff’s Arcadia fooled me into thinking it was something less than a spectacular novel. It begins on an eponymous commune in western New York State during the 1970s, hitting all the tiresome notes one expects from a narrative about people trying to “beat the system” with hard work and [...]

Review: Peter Matthiessen’s “Shadow Country”

This book became known to me when a friend spoke of it with reverence during a long walk in the woods. I was immediately captivated by his description of an historical novel derived from Peter Matthiessen’s “Watson trilogy,” originally published in the 1990s. In 2008, Matthiessen published Shadow Country, the definitive fictional rendering of his decade-spanning obsession [...]

Review: Daniel Suarez’s “Freedom”

When I give a book a top rating, it is usually because I think that book is perfect, or close to it. I will not make that claim about Daniel Suarez’s Freedom. No, this book has some very significant and undeniable flaws. Even so, it is perhaps the best technothriller I’ve ever read, and beyond that, [...]

Review: Peter Wohlleben’s “The Hidden Life of Trees”

Naturalists who write for a popular audience have a tough needle to thread. An acceptable work of popular naturalism provides readers with enough detailed research to convey and legitimize the author’s expertise, while simultaneously eschewing esoteric tangents and academic quibbles. A great work will also contain responsible speculation about the borders of human knowledge––just enough [...]

Review: Nancy Isenberg’s “White Trash”

If such a thing as disillusionment is possible inside the skull of Donald Trump, this may be one of those rare weekends in which it is buzzing about. As the idea that leading America would be somehow simple or easy crumbles before Trump’s eyes, those of us looking on do well to remind ourselves that [...]

Review: Ilona Andrews’s “Magic Breaks”

One can only gush so much about a series before things get ugly, so I’ll try to keep this brief. Magic Breaks is proof that a creative and heartfelt narrative populated with memorable characters can keep evolving in fresh and meaningful ways, long past the point where lesser stories founder. This particular installment of Kate Daniels’s story [...]

Traveling in Post-Brexit Britain

Introduction: Waves Across the Pond I can’t remember a time when the political coverage of Britain in the United States was more fervent than during this summer’s Brexit vote. Given the parallels between the Brexit movement and the rise of Donald Trump, it makes sense that many interpreted the referendum as a testing ground not [...]

Quotes 4-5-2016

“A stranger hurrying as fast as he could over the icy sidewalks looked in. He saw a circle of singing people bathed in the clean white light from a tree, and his heart did a somersault, and the image stayed with him; it merged with him even as he came home to his own children, [...]