All the Latest Conspiracy Theories: A Journalist Explores

Book review: Republic of Lies, by Anna Merlan (Amazon / Book Depository) It’s a typically disorienting winter day in an unremarkable part of Los Angeles, the palm trees bristling above the Walgreens and the tire shops, the golden light washing insistently over the slowly rotating sign above a twenty-four-hour burger joint, its paint peeled away into nonexistence. The sun doesn’t penetrate into this vast, windowless … Continue reading All the Latest Conspiracy Theories: A Journalist Explores

Modern Rasputins: Identifying the Manipulators in Power

Book review: No One Man Should Have All That Power, by Amos Barshad (Amazon / Book Depository) Wherever there is a puppet master, an eminence grise, a Svengali, a manipulator, a secret controller – that is a Rasputin. Author Amos Barshad, fascinated by the shadowy and powerful, started noticing manipulative figures everywhere, from pop culture to politics. He developed a seven-point system to identify the … Continue reading Modern Rasputins: Identifying the Manipulators in Power

Lives and Social Histories of the Ripper’s Canonical Five

Book review: The Five, by Hallie Rubenhold (Amazon / Book Depository) Polly, Annie, Elizabeth, Catherine and Mary Jane are famous for the same thing, though they never met. They came from Fleet Street, Knightsbridge, Wolverhampton, Sweden, and Wales. They wrote ballads, ran coffee houses, lived on country estates, they breathed ink-dust from printing presses and escaped people-traffickers. The truth of these women’s lives was not … Continue reading Lives and Social Histories of the Ripper’s Canonical Five

The View From Tehran

Book review: I’m Writing You From Tehran, by Delphine Minoui (Amazon / Book Depository) The taxi rolls along gray lines. That’s all we can make out in the darkness: gray lines, as far as the eye can see, marking out the road to the airport. Outside, beyond the window, the night devours the last forbidden words I heard. How many will still dare to shout … Continue reading The View From Tehran

Myth and Truth in Kitty Genovese’s Story

Book review: Kitty Genovese, by Catherine Pelonero (Amazon / Book Depository) It was the location, many later said, that gave a heightened sense of horror to what happened. In the early morning of March 1964 in Kew Gardens, a quiet residential district of Queens, considered “idyllic” by New York City standards, a young woman named Kitty Genovese was murdered on her way home from work in … Continue reading Myth and Truth in Kitty Genovese’s Story

The History Mystery of Thomas Paine’s Afterlife

Book review: The Trouble with Tom, by Paul Collins (Amazon / Book Depository) He should have been dead from the start. He’d been cheating Death almost from the beginning: at the age of nineteen, leaving his parents’ home for the first time, Pain – he’d not yet added the final e to his name—set out for London and was recruited at dockside for service on … Continue reading The History Mystery of Thomas Paine’s Afterlife

The Latest On Lizzie: Extensive Account of The Infamous Maybe-Murderer

Book review: The Trial of Lizzie Borden, by Cara Robertson (Amazon / Book Depository) Lizzie Borden’s is a story that’s persistently intrigued us for over a century. This latest nonfiction treatment, coming on the heels of multiple recent novels, a TV movie and series, a work of YA nonfiction, and a feature film shows that’s not likely to change anytime soon. Why does this case … Continue reading The Latest On Lizzie: Extensive Account of The Infamous Maybe-Murderer

Reinvestigating A Mysterious Murder In Old China

Book review: Midnight in Peking, by Paul French (Amazon / Book Depository) After reading a footnote briefly referencing the murder of a young English expat in Peking (now Beijing), author Paul French woke up the next morning with the strong conviction that there was a deep and strange story behind it that needed telling. Midnight in Peking is the ominously suspenseful historical true crime account that … Continue reading Reinvestigating A Mysterious Murder In Old China

A Travelogue In Search Of What’s Making Russia Great Again

Book review: In Putin’s Footsteps, by Nina Khrushcheva and Jeffrey Tayler (Amazon / Book Depository) The new stories were no longer those of Yeltsin’s Russia, which was perceived, both at home and abroad, as a weak, insignificant, and corrupt bogeyman reeling from its Cold War defeat. These were stories of an enigmatic young technocrat tirelessly crisscrossing the country and meeting with workers, farmers, and cultural … Continue reading A Travelogue In Search Of What’s Making Russia Great Again

Disaster and After: A Chernobyl Deep Dive

Book review: Midnight in Chernobyl, by Adam Higginbotham (Amazon / Book Depository) Senior Lieutenant Alexander Logachev loved radiation the way other men loved their wives. So begins Adam Higginbotham’s exhaustive account of the April 1986 Chernobyl disaster, recounting a blow-by-blow of the unfolding incident and the monumental effects of the aftermath, amidst the context of Soviet politics and the USSR’s place on the world stage. … Continue reading Disaster and After: A Chernobyl Deep Dive

The Man-Made Disaster of “The Deadliest Animal in History”

Book review: No Beast So Fierce, by Dane Huckelbridge (Amazon / Book Depository) Around 1900 in India and Nepal, a Royal Bengal tiger had gone “cannibal”. That’s the term author John Vaillant attributes to Russians in The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival, used for describing when a tiger preys on humans as its primary food source. The Champawat tiger would take 436 lives in … Continue reading The Man-Made Disaster of “The Deadliest Animal in History”

Divided By a Common Language, More So Than We Think

Book review: If Only They Didn’t Speak English, by Jon Sopel (Amazon / Book Depository) BBC journalist Jon Sopel, the network’s North America editor, writes about US history, politics, culture and personal impressions through a UK-US comparative lens while working in both Obama’s and Trump’s America. Sopel got called out by Trump at a press conference in early 2017 while asking a question about the … Continue reading Divided By a Common Language, More So Than We Think