An Unflinching Look at An FBI Career in Crimes Against Kids

In the Name of the Children, by Jeffrey Rinek Jeffrey Rinek, retired FBI agent and owner of a majestic mustache, writes a memoir detailing cases he worked during his career, particularly in the area of child sex crimes and the infamous Yosemite murders, where three tourists (Carole and Juli Sund and Silvina Pelosso) were abducted and murdered, leaving behind a particularly bizarre trail of evidence. He … Continue reading An Unflinching Look at An FBI Career in Crimes Against Kids

Winchester’s Mark On Americana and Its Changing Face

Book review: Homeplace, by John Lingan Winchester’s residents have always been engaged in the process of defining this place and its character, and those definitions are often forged in living rooms more than state houses or courtrooms. That’s where people learn their values and hear their legends. Homes – the places to gather with your people – were the true currency of a region in … Continue reading Winchester’s Mark On Americana and Its Changing Face

Historical Scandal, Murder and Medicine at Harvard

Book review: Blood & Ivy, by Paul Collins On November 23, 1849, shortly before Thanksgiving, Dr. George Parkman entered Harvard’s Medical College to visit a tenant of his, the college’s chemistry professor, John White Webster. He was never seen again. A familiar figure in and around Boston, Dr. Parkman’s disappearance grabbed plenty of news headlines, both the expected and the fanciful, and generated waves of … Continue reading Historical Scandal, Murder and Medicine at Harvard

Stories from America’s Melting Pot of Cuisine and Culture

Buttermilk Graffiti, by Edward Lee This says a lot about who we are as a culture now; we care about the person behind the recipes. For us, it is important to know as much about the cook as we do about his or her dishes. Cookbooks are living traditions. They reflect back to us who we are, as individuals, as a culture. Edward Lee is … Continue reading Stories from America’s Melting Pot of Cuisine and Culture

Favorites of the Year So Far

2018 has seen so much great nonfiction and we’re only halfway there. It’s been quite the year for big nonfiction news stories too, kicking off in January with Fire and Fury frenzy, then the memoir debut of a daughter of Mormon survivalists taking the literary world by storm, James Comey’s much-anticipated tell-all, and a triumphant moment for criminal justice with a serial rapist and killer apprehended more than four decades … Continue reading Favorites of the Year So Far

America’s Dead Girl Fixation and Other Obsessions

Book review: Dead Girls, by Alice Bolin Alice Bolin’s debut essay collection opens with a strong and intriguing premise: what is this obsession America (and beyond) has with dead girls? The murdered or missing blonde white ones of media frenzies; the ones that get forgotten after serving as engines for outrage in programs like Serial; the innocent and martyred ones (or else murdered sex workers – … Continue reading America’s Dead Girl Fixation and Other Obsessions

Then and Now, Across America’s Last Frontier

Book review: Tip of the Iceberg, by Mark Adams Travel writer Mark Adams recounts his experiences traveling in Alaska, that “last great American frontier”, following the trail of an exploratory expedition run by railroad tycoon Edward Harriman in 1899. That expedition was mapping the state’s coastline, and included famed naturalist and conservationist writer John Muir (a self-described “author and student of glaciers”). Muir certainly could … Continue reading Then and Now, Across America’s Last Frontier

Jon Ronson Double Feature: “Them” and its Could-Be Addendum, “The Elephant in the Room”

Book review: Them and The Elephant in the Room, by Jon Ronson This book began its life in 1995 as a series of profiles of extremist leaders, but it quickly became something stranger. My plan had been to spend time with those people who had been described as the extremist monsters of the Western world – Islamic fundamentalists, neo-Nazis, etc. I wanted to join them as they went about … Continue reading Jon Ronson Double Feature: “Them” and its Could-Be Addendum, “The Elephant in the Room”

David Sedaris on Getting Older, Complicated Families, and the “Sea Section”

Book review: Calypso, by David Sedaris His most recent publications have been a bit of a diversion for David Sedaris. Last year, he published the first part of his diaries, Theft by Finding, which showed the genesis of some of his well known works, as well as being an unconventional glimpse into his early life and bizarre, often hilarious thought processes. I absolutely loved it, but I … Continue reading David Sedaris on Getting Older, Complicated Families, and the “Sea Section”

Reinvestigating Roanoke

Book review: The Secret Token, by Andrew Lawler Roanoke has long been a setting for our national nightmares. A recurring topic of Andrew Lawler’s new exploration into the lost colony of settlers at Roanoke in the 1580s is just how much this story, from the early beginnings of European history in North America, fascinates us. And why, when there have been so many other strange … Continue reading Reinvestigating Roanoke

A 1937 Crime and Trial Setting Historical Precedence

Book review: Little Shoes, by Pamela Everett I noticed this book was coming out after reading Piu Eatwell’s take on Elizabeth Short’s infamous murder, Black Dahlia, Red Rose. In that book, Eatwell repeatedly references the profiling work of Dr. Paul De River, a psychiatrist who, before psychologically profiling and interviewing Dahlia suspect Leslie Dillon, had used similar techniques to help secure a conviction in the case of … Continue reading A 1937 Crime and Trial Setting Historical Precedence

The America Hiding in Plain Sight

Book review: Hidden America, by Jeanne Marie Laskas I discovered this book through the excellent New York Times Match Book column. If you’re not already familiar, people write asking for specific book recommendations based on previous favorites or highly specific genres. This one was mentioned in a social issues-themed reading list. Hidden America began when author Laskas was writing about coal mining and ended up spending … Continue reading The America Hiding in Plain Sight