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

Arguing Against “Incomprehensible” When a Mother is Responsible

Book review: To the Bridge, by Nancy Rommelmann Journalist and author Nancy Rommelmann found herself captivated by a disturbing news story. Young mother Amanda Stott-Smith had, in the early morning hours of May 23, 2009, driven to the Sellwood Bridge in Portland, Oregon and dropped her two young children into the Willamette River below. The elder of the two, seven-year-old Trinity, survived. Four-year-old Eldon didn’t … Continue reading Arguing Against “Incomprehensible” When a Mother is Responsible

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

Double Life in Detroit

Book review: Masquerade, by Lowell Cauffiel Masquerade is one of those cliched un-put-downable books, pretty perfect if you want somewhat trashy-themed but still literary nonfiction. It’s the detailed account of Dr. Alan Canty, a respected psychologist from Grosse Pointe, an affluent and exclusive Detroit suburb, and his involvement in a seedier side of life via a bizarre obsessive relationship with a heroin-addicted sex worker, Dawn, … Continue reading Double Life in Detroit

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

The Strange and Sad History of Humans and Orcas

Book review: Orca, by Jason Colby Author Jason Colby’s father was one of the last orca hunters in Washington state, capturing the apex predator from its natural habitat to fill orders for aquariums worldwide. Colby writes this detailed, descriptive but very readable history of human-orca interactions from a place of lifelong personal interest, having witnessed his father’s deep regret over his actions. It also allows … Continue reading The Strange and Sad History of Humans and Orcas

New York City’s 16-Year Manhunt and Criminal Profiling’s Beginnings

Book review: Incendiary, by Michael Cannell In 1956 there was no such thing as criminal profiling; nobody could recall an instance when the police had consulted a psychiatrist. It was a collaboration fabricated in detective novels, but never found in real life. Every one of today’s profilers, real or televised, traces his or her lineage back to the psychiatrist who depicted the serial bomber with … Continue reading New York City’s 16-Year Manhunt and Criminal Profiling’s Beginnings

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

Into the Heart of Texas

Book review: God Save Texas, by Lawrence Wright By the time I graduated from high school, I was sick of Texas. I did everything I could to cleanse myself of its influence…I’ve seen the same thing happen to people who come from other societies with a strong cultural imprint; they reverse the image. But being the opposite of what you were is not the same … Continue reading Into the Heart of Texas

A Journalist on Clinton’s Campaigns and Her Own Role in Covering Them

Book review: Chasing Hillary, by Amy Chozick I just wanted to tell good stories that helped explain the world to people. Every time I read another campaign trail or White House memoir, I tell myself that’s enough. Then a new one comes out and I can’t seem to resist. Longtime traveling journalist on the Hillary Clinton beat Amy Chozick’s Chasing Hillary is the latest, and it’s quite … Continue reading A Journalist on Clinton’s Campaigns and Her Own Role in Covering Them

Monologues on Chernobyl and What Came After

Book review: Voices from Chernobyl, by Svetlana Alexievich Sometimes it’s as though I hear his voice. Alive. Even photographs don’t have the same effect on me as that voice. But he never calls out to me . . . not even in my dreams. I’m the one who calls to him. After reading Svetlana Alexievich’s incredible Unwomanly Face of War, I couldn’t wait to begin another … Continue reading Monologues on Chernobyl and What Came After