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Tree of Smoke: A Novel Farrar Straus and Giroux First Edition edition Denis Johnson


27th April 2013 Literature & Fiction 48 Comments
Once upon a time there was a war . . . and a young American who thought of himself as the Quiet American and the Ugly American, and who wished to be neither, who wanted instead to be the Wise American, or the Good American, but who eventually came to witness himself as the Real American and finally as simply the Fucking American. Thats me. Amazon Significant Seven, September 2007: Denis Johnson is one of those few great hopes of American writing, fully capable of pulling out a ground-changing masterpiece, as he did in 1992 with the now-legendary collection, Jesus' Son. Tree of Smoke showed ...
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A Stranger to Myself: The Inhumanity of War: Russia 1941-1944 Willy Peter Reese Farrar Straus and Giroux


18th January 2013 History Books 42 Comments
Sometimes lyrical, this memoir by a German youth who miraculously survived four tours of duty on the Russian front during WWII—he died on his fifth deployment—is a significant historical document. It is also a laborious and overwrought cacophony of Wagnerian proportions. Reese, who was a 20-year-old bank clerk in 1939 when he was first drafted, inhabits many different worlds, all of them conflicting. Despite Schmitz's assertion that Reese was "no Nazi," he was, like the vast majority of German youths of the time, deeply imbued with Nazi ideology and experienced the war as a sort of ...
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The Terror: The Merciless War for Freedom in Revolutionary France David Andress Farrar Straus and Giroux


23rd December 2012 History Books 13 Comments
Andress offers a visceral account of the guillotining of King Louis XVI in 1793: "he was strapped to a tilting plank, which dropped his head into a brace, and the blade... plunged from above." While the British historian's graphic depiction of numerous executions is a high point of his account of the Terror, he explicitly states it was not the most salient point of the revolution. Countering the historiography of the last generation, including Simon Schama, who said, "violence was the revolution itself," Andress focuses not just on the killings but on the "grand political pronouncements, ...
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Ordinary Heroes: A Novel Scott Turow Farrar Straus and Giroux First Edition edition


14th December 2012 Literature & Fiction 52 Comments
Starred Review. When retired newspaperman Stewart Dubinsky (last seen in 1987's Presumed Innocent) discovers letters his deceased father wrote during his tour of duty in WWII, a host of family secrets come to light. In Turow's ambitious, fascinating page-turner, a "ferocious curiosity" compels the divorced Dubinsky to study his "remote, circumspect" father's papers, which include love letters written to a fiancée the family had never heard of, and a lengthy manuscript, which his father wrote in prison and which includes the shocking disclosure of his father's court-martial for assisting ...
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Killing the Black Dog: A Memoir of Depression Farrar Straus and Giroux Reprint edition Les Murray


24th November 2012 Literature & Fiction 26 Comments
In 1988, shortly after moving from Sydney back to his birthplace in the rural New South Wales hamlet of Bunyah, Les Murray was struck with depression. In the months that followed, the Black Dog (as he calls it) ruled his life. He raged at his wife and children. He ducked a parking ticket on grounds of insanity, and begged a police officer to shoot him rather than arrest him. For days on end he lay in despair, a state in which, as he puts it precisely, you feel beneath help. Killing the Black Dog is Murrays recollection of those awful days: brief, pointed, wise, and full of beauty in the way ...
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Old City Hall: A Novel Farrar Straus and Giroux First Edition edition Robert Rotenberg


22nd November 2012 Literature & Fiction 49 Comments
Breathtaking . . . A tightly woven spiderweb of plot and a rich cast of characters make this a truly gripping read. Jeffery Deaver, author of The Bodies Left Behind What appears to be an open-and-shut murder case turns out to be anything but in Rotenberg's overstuffed debut, a legal thriller. After celebrated radio host Kevin Brace (aka the Voice of Canada) confesses to killing his wife, Katherine, in their Toronto apartment, he refuses to utter another word, even to his attorney, Nancy Parish. The police, including homicide detective Ari Greene and ex-lawyer-turned-cop Daniel Kennicott, ...
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The Village of Waiting Africa Coastal West Africa George Packer Farrar Straus and Giroux 1 edition


20th October 2012 History Books 27 Comments
In 1982-83, Packer worked for the Peace Corps as an English teacher in the village of Lavie in Togo, West Africa, and here recounts his occasionally comic, more often poignant, and frequently tragic experiences in sharp, descriptive prose. He does not romanticize Africa or Africans, but writes with an honest sense of realism and the perspective of an outsider who nevertheless cares very deeply for his subject: "The struggle to stay afloat took on endless variations in Togo. And the white foreigner who'd come on an enlightened mission, and once there managed to keep his eyes open, quickly ...
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Train Dreams: A Novella Farrar Straus and Giroux First Edition edition Denis Johnson


20th October 2012 Literature & Fiction 44 Comments
A New York Times Notable Book for 2011 Praise for Tree of Smoke:Good morning and please listen to me: Denis Johnson is a true American artist, and Tree of Smoke is a tremendous book . . . It ought to secure Johnson's status as a revelator for this still new century. Jim Lewis, The New York TimesPraise for Train Dreams:[A] severely lovely tale . . . The visionary, miraculous element in Johnsons deceptively tough realism makes beautiful appearances in this book. The hard, declarative sentences keep their powder dry for pages at a time, and then suddenly flare into lyricism; the natural world ...
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The Big Test: The Secret History of the American Meritocracy Nicholas Lemann Farrar Straus and Giroux 1st edition


19th October 2012 History Books 46 Comments
Nicholas Lemann's The Big Test starts off as a look at how the SAT became an integral part of the college application process by telling the stories of men like Henry Chauncey and James Bryant Conant of Harvard University, who sought in the 1930s and '40s to expand their student base beyond the offspring of Brahmin alumni. When they went into the public schools of the Midwest to recruit, standardized testing gave them the means to select which lucky students would be deemed most suitable for an Ivy League education. But about a third of the way through the book, Lemann shifts gears and ...
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Table of Contents John McPhee Farrar Straus and Giroux 1st edition


16th October 2012 History Books 5 Comments
Eight essays of varying length, all reprinted from the New Yorker , make up this collection of vintage McPhee. Most of the pieces deal with people who have taken the less traveled path, such as Pat McConnell, who is in charge of all New Jersey's fur-bearing mammals, including bears (yes, there are bears in New Jersey); Richard Hutchinson, who runs a truly tinkertoy power company in Circle City, Alaska; and Dr. David Jones, who practices family medicine in the far reaches of Aroostook County, Maine. Rather incongruously, there is also a profile of Senator Bill Bradley of New Jersey, the ...
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