Svetlana, In and Out of Stalin’s Shadow

Book review: Stalin’s Daughter, by Rosemary Sullivan “What would it mean to be born Stalin’s daughter, to carry the weight of that name for a lifetime and never be free of it?” “I want to explain to you, he broke my life.” Even writing a biography showing the many sides of Svetlana Alliluyeva often ignored by media, multiple governments, and history, Rosemary Sullivan didn’t have … Continue reading Svetlana, In and Out of Stalin’s Shadow

Unsolved Mysteries of the I-45

Book review: Deliver Us, by Kathryn Casey It’s only natural to want to believe we are in control, that when we wake each morning, we decide what we do, that our lives don’t rest in the hands of others or, even worse, of that unseen yet eternal influence commonly referred to as destiny. Kathryn Casey generally writes the kind of true crime I avoid. When … Continue reading Unsolved Mysteries of the I-45

Sharp Essays on America’s Social, Political, and Economic Bruises

Book review: The View from Flyover Country, by Sarah Kendzior An old adage says to write what you know. As a journalist living in a decayed Midwestern city waiting – and waiting and waiting – for the Great Recession to end, that was what I knew. Political writer, analyst and academic researcher of authoritarian states Sarah Kendzior rose to prominence a few years ago after … Continue reading Sharp Essays on America’s Social, Political, and Economic Bruises

Images of Apocalypse in the Everyday

Book review: The World is On Fire, by Joni Tevis Joni Tevis has a strange talent for writing essays that combine the most unlikely, unrelated subjects, skipping without any obvious connection between topics and somehow making it work as a coherent, emotional, interesting piece. I’ve never read anything quite like it before. As one example, she writes an essay contrasting her own struggles with fertility … Continue reading Images of Apocalypse in the Everyday

Stirring Up Trouble for Scientology

Book review: Troublemaker, by Leah Remini I love Scientology. NOT LIKE THAT! I don’t want to get put on some list, like their never-ending mailing list. But I’m obsessed with knowing about this cult masquerading as a religion. I’m a total SP! (That’s Scientololingo for a Suppressive Person, someone who hates on them.) Going Clear is an absolute must-read; in fact, it should be probably be read first. Like … Continue reading Stirring Up Trouble for Scientology

Tigers in the Wild: Observations from Siberia

Book review: Great Soul of Siberia, by Sooyong Park Back in 2010, I read a book so good that even while I was reading it I knew it was going to be hard to top. It was around the time I was shifting to reading primarily nonfiction, and John Vaillant’s The Tiger was influential in my making that shift. I remember staying home on a Friday night, so caught … Continue reading Tigers in the Wild: Observations from Siberia

When Blasphemy, Heresy and Apostasy are Necessary

Book review: Heretic, by Ayaan Hirsi Ali On ______, a group of ______ heavily armed, black-clad men burst into a ______ in ______, opening fire and killing a total of ______ people. The attackers were filmed shouting “Allahu akbar!” Speaking at a press conference, President ______ said: “We condemn this criminal act by extremists. Their attempt to justify their violent acts in the name of a religion … Continue reading When Blasphemy, Heresy and Apostasy are Necessary

Lost and Found Girls

Book review: The Lost Girls: The True Story of the Cleveland Abductions and the Incredible Rescue of Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry, and Gina DeJesus by John Glatt True crime writer John Glatt’s The Lost Girls is saddled with a painfully long subtitle, I assume to distinguish it from the long list of other books named Lost Girls, and especially from other true crime books called Lost Girls. Let’s … Continue reading Lost and Found Girls

“He who lives will see.”

Book review: War Diaries, 1939-1945, by Astrid Lindgren, translated by Sarah Death Astrid Lindgren, the beloved author of the Pippi Longstocking series, lived through the Second World War with her family in Stockholm, Sweden. She was just beginning her writing career, and in wartime got a job in the censorship office. Lindgren began recording daily life with “Oh! War broke out today. Nobody could believe it,” on that … Continue reading “He who lives will see.”

Spirit of Santa Fe: Tracing a Ghost from Germany to the American Southwest

Book review: American Ghost, by Hannah Nordhaus I’d saved this for a Halloweeny read, and I’m glad that I read it after Colin Dickey’s Ghostland. It got a fair amount of negative, or at least disappointed, Goodreads reviews, and I might have felt the same if I hadn’t learned so much from his book about why ghost stories develop, and how the ghosts, along with our fears and … Continue reading Spirit of Santa Fe: Tracing a Ghost from Germany to the American Southwest

Life at the Bottom of the Glass

Book review: Pour Me a Life, by A.A. Gill Totally surprised by how much I loved this! I picked it initially because earlier this year I read and loved Sarah Hepola’s excellent memoir Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget, about drinking too much for too long, so I was open to something I thought would be similar. These are quite different in that Pour … Continue reading Life at the Bottom of the Glass

Nobody’s Girl

  Book review: Nobody’s Girl I got caught up and read the whole thing in an afternoon. By the end I was incredibly moved and near tears. I’ve read a lot of awful things, like everyone, considering all the bad news the world has to offer. But there’s something about her frankness and straightforward tackling of uncomfortable, downright awful topics coupled with her childhood vulnerability … Continue reading Nobody’s Girl