books

After nine African-Americans were gunned down in their Charleston church last month, the South Carolina legislature voted to take down the Confederate flag that had flown at the statehouse for decades.

Journalist Christopher Dickey, whose own family demonstrates the complicated history of the Civil War, has written a new book (excerpt below) that looks at slavery through the eyes of a British agent who served in South Carolina before and during the war.

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Anyone looking for a powerful summer read should pick up a copy of Vera Brittain’s 1933 “Testament of Youth.” The memoir is a cross between shows like Downton Abbey, films like Galipoli, and modern-era war fiction like “The Things They Left Behind.”

The moment in Kate Atkinson's A God In Ruins when protagonist Teddy Todd lies to his granddaughter about an old photograph isn't a grand climax. It happens in passing, in half a sentence: She asks about the stain on an image of Teddy and his long-dead wife Nancy. It's actually the blood of one of his World War II air crew, who died in his arms after their plane was shot down. But Teddy claims it's tea, "not because she wouldn't have been interested but because it was a private thing."

A Pen-Pal Friendship Changes Two Lives

May 4, 2015

When Pennsylvania schoolgirl Caitlin Alifirenka was offered a pen pal in a foreign country, she chose Zimbabwe because she liked the sound of it. But as she began to correspond with Martin Ganda, who lived in Zimbabwe with his family, she had no idea the extent to which that correspondence would change both of their lives.

As Alifirenka began to learn more about the poverty that Martin faced on a daily basis, her perceptions of her own world began to change.

When former Mother Jones reporter Mac McClelland was diagnosed with PTSD after witnessing another woman’s horror at being brutally assaulted in earthquake-ravaged Haiti, she didn’t believe it. After all, it was the Haitian who was assaulted, not her.

A lot of readers agreed after McClelland wrote an essay about her diagnosis in 2011. They were outraged that the 32-year-old journalist should be seen as a victim.

This is the time of year when many high school seniors get their college acceptances and rejections. Some may be dejected that they didn’t get into their first choice school or a school with a stellar reputation.

But as New York Times columnist Frank Bruni writes in his new book, there are many great schools that haven’t been getting the press of a Stanford or MIT or an Ivy League school.

Bruni also questions the validity of current college ranking systems like U.S. News & World Report.

Mark Kelly and his twin brother Scott were both NASA astronauts. Scott is scheduled to embark on a year-long mission to the International Space Station later this month.

Mark retired from NASA to spend more time with his wife, Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords who was shot at a public appearance in 2011.

Is The Internet Hurting More Than Helping?

Mar 16, 2015

Andrew Keen works in Silicon Valley and founded a couple of start-ups, but he’s not sold on the Internet.

In his latest book “The Internet Is Not The Answer,” Keen makes the case that the Internet as it exists now hurts the middle class.

At one point in the late 1990s, a $5 toy mass-produced in China became such a big craze that people – mostly adults – paid thousands of dollars to collect them. But only a few years after Beanie Babies made their creator a billionaire, the stuffed animals became virtually worthless.

Author Zac Bissonnette followed the great Beanie Baby boom and went inside the mind of the toy’s obsessed founder Ty Warner, considered by his employees to be “the Steve Jobs of plush.” But working for Ty wasn’t always warm and cuddly.

You don't read Anne Tyler to have your worldview expanded, or to be kept awake at night anxiously turning pages. You read, instead, for the cozy mildness, the comfort of sinking into each new warmhearted, gently wry book.

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