Narrative Biography of a Trailblazing Lawyer Turned Detective, Almost Lost to History

Book review: Mrs. Sherlock Holmes, by Brad Ricca (Amazon / Book Depository) Newly told stories of women who have faded into the annals of history despite significant contributions from their life’s work are becoming an increasingly popular, welcomed trend. Author Brad Ricca’s Mrs. Sherlock Holmes covers one such story – that of Grace Humiston, a New York City lawyer in the early 1900s who earned … Continue reading Narrative Biography of a Trailblazing Lawyer Turned Detective, Almost Lost to History

The Wild, Wonderful World of Couchsurfing in Russia

Book review: Behind Putin’s Curtain, by Stephan Orth (Amazon / Book Depository) Hamburg-based journalist Stephan Orth has written several books about his global couchsurfing adventures in unconventional locales. Orth brings a certain cheerful openness and humorous curiosity to his adventuring, and of the touristic method of couchsurfing, he mentions that it offers “the mutual gift of time and curiosity,” something lacking in all-inclusive trips or … Continue reading The Wild, Wonderful World of Couchsurfing in Russia

Jon Krakauer’s Classic On An Ill-Fated Walk Into Wilderness

Book review: Into the Wild, by Jon Krakauer (Amazon / Book Depository) His exact words were: “I think I’m going to disappear for a while.” At 24, Chris McCandless was a young man with, on the surface, a lot going for him. His family had provided wealth and economic stability, he was smart and college educated, and possessed a unique ability to connect with people, … Continue reading Jon Krakauer’s Classic On An Ill-Fated Walk Into Wilderness

Harper Lee’s Abandoned Work: A Crime Spree and a Mysterious Reverend in the Deep South

Book review: Furious Hours, by Casey Cep (Amazon / Book Depository) Seventeen years had passed since she’d published To Kill a Mockingbird and twelve since she’d finished helping her friend Truman Capote report the crime story in Kansas that became In Cold Blood. Now, finally, she was ready to try again. Novelist Harper Lee, long beloved for To Kill a Mockingbird, has always seemed a somewhat bittersweet figure … Continue reading Harper Lee’s Abandoned Work: A Crime Spree and a Mysterious Reverend in the Deep South

Narrative Nonfiction Classic on Ebola’s Origins

Book review: The Hot Zone, by Richard Preston (Amazon / Book Depository) Nature is anything but simple. This emerging virus was like a bat crossing the sky at evening. Just when you thought you saw it flicker through your field of view, it was gone. Richard Preston’s 1994 bestseller about the origins of Ebolavirus and early outbreaks, The Hot Zone, has been criticized for inaccurately depicting … Continue reading Narrative Nonfiction Classic on Ebola’s Origins

A Year Abroad As the Soviet Union Was Falling

Book review: Black Earth City, by Charlotte Hobson (Amazon / Book Depository) ‘You must understand,’ said Rita Yurievna, ‘that in Russian, verbs are not only about action. They are also about the experience. Think how different it feels if you walk down a street every morning of your life, and if you walk down it for the first and only time. It maybe be the … Continue reading A Year Abroad As the Soviet Union Was Falling

The Inflamed Brain and The Unreliable Narrator

Book review: Brain on Fire, by Susannah Cahalan (Amazon / Book Depository) The mind is like a circuit of Christmas tree lights. When the brain works well, all of the lights twinkle brilliantly, and it’s adaptable enough that, often, even if one bulb goes out, the rest will still shine on. But depending on where the damage is, sometimes that one blown bulb can make … Continue reading The Inflamed Brain and The Unreliable Narrator

Behaviorally Profiling the Ones That Got Away

Book review: The Cases That Haunt Us, by John Douglas & Mark Olshaker (Amazon / Book Depository) Each of the cases we’ll be examining in this book has remained extremely controversial. And each of these cases contains some universal truth at its base to which we can all relate. Taken together, they present a panorama of human behavior under extreme stress and an inevitable commentary … Continue reading Behaviorally Profiling the Ones That Got Away

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

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

Mark Bowden on Turning Over a Cold Case’s “Last Stone”

Book review: The Last Stone, by Mark Bowden (Amazon / Book Depository) Mark Bowden is a gem in narrative journalism. I’ve so often been sucked into reading a longread, that kind of lose-track-of-time story, and see it’s his after finally checking the byline. He’s a wonderfully compelling storyteller and a thorough, detail-oriented journalist. In The Last Stone, he revisits the recently solved disappearance of the … Continue reading Mark Bowden on Turning Over a Cold Case’s “Last Stone”

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