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... Continue Reading →

Beautiful Country Burn Again

Book review: South and West, by Joan Didion I am trying to place myself in history. I have been looking all my life for history and have yet to find it. The resolutely "colorful," anecdotal quality of San Francisco history. "Characters" abound. It puts one off. In the South they are convinced that they are capable... Continue Reading →

What’s Behind Each Trump Cabinet Door

Book review: Horsemen of the Trumpocalypse, by John Nichols "Presidents can often be inconsequential - or foolish, or erratic, or incomprehensible. But presidencies are never any of those things. They are powerful, overarching, definitional.  They shape more than policies; they shape our sense of what the United States can be...Donald Trump's presidency will make America something different than it... Continue Reading →

Snakes in the Church

Book review: Salvation on Sand Mountain, by Dennis Covington "Snake handling didn't originate back in the hills somewhere. It started when people came down from the hills to discover they were surrounded by a hostile and spiritually dead culture." At some point last year, I read an article, I think either about a preacher getting arrested or else bitten and... Continue Reading →

Shaking Up the Senate

Book review: Al Franken, Giant of the Senate, by Al Franken Al Franken would argue that, despite the title of his new book, he's not a giant of the Senate. That label is for the likes of Ted Kennedy and Mike Mansfield. But he certainly provides a lot of evidence in the book that argues... Continue Reading →

Black Widow of the Heartland

Book review: The Truth About Belle Gunness, by Lillian de la Torre On a spring day in 1908, police were called to the scene of a fire in a farmhouse in La Porte, Indiana. In the ruins of the house, they discovered four bodies: three children and a headless adult believed to be the farm's proprietress,... Continue Reading →

Defending Hillary

Book review: The Destruction of Hillary Clinton, by Susan Bordo Professor, scholar, and Pulitzer Prize-nominee Susan Bordo is, like many others, astounded at the events of the past year that culminated in Donald Trump assuming power in Washington instead of Hillary Clinton. And like many, she's struggled to make sense of it all: of the... Continue Reading →

America’s Most Fragile

Book review: Glass House, by Brian Alexander Journalist Brian Alexander is a native of Lancaster, Ohio, a city highlighted by Forbes in 1947 with the shining, post-war pride declaration, "This is America." Now it's one of many towns in America's Rust Belt that's fallen victim to plagues of misfortune in recent decades - the restructuring and eventual closures of big companies,... Continue Reading →

Children of the Cult

Book review: The Sound of Gravel, by Ruth Wariner (Amazon / Book Depository) After reading and watching Going Clear last year, Lawrence Wright's detailed expose on Scientology, I've been fixated on reading about extremist religions, especially those verging on the cultish. Seeing Bill Maher's documentary Religulous around the same time further fueled this: I loved seeing him use his trademark cynicism coupled... Continue Reading →

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