Deceivers and Their Believers: Pop Psych on Dishonesty in Love

Book review: Duped, by Abby Ellin (Amazon / Book Depository) Journalist Abby Ellin, an observer of human nature for her work, couldn’t believe she’d been so deceived. She’d been in a long-term relationship with a man dubbed “the Commander,” a military doctor prone to spinning impossibly tall (and borderline silly) tales and who was secretly writing prescriptions in the names of people close to him. … Continue reading Deceivers and Their Believers: Pop Psych on Dishonesty in Love

Hope in Historical Precedence

Book review: Lessons from a Dark Time, by Adam Hochschild Book Depository When times are dark, we need moral ancestors, and I hope the pieces here will be reminders that others have fought and won battles against injustice in the past, including some against racism, anti-immigrant hysteria, and more. The Trumps and Putins of those eras have gotten the ignominy they deserve. Journalist, public historian … Continue reading Hope in Historical Precedence

Living Through Scientology’s “Fair Game” Policy

Book review: The Unbreakable Miss Lovely, by Tony Ortega Amazon Journalist Paulette Cooper survived the Holocaust but she almost didn’t survive Scientology. That thought lingered while reading this biography and account of her years of harassment by the cultlike religion for daring to write honestly and critically about them. Her parents suffered persecution as Jews in Second World War Europe and Paulette was lucky enough … Continue reading Living Through Scientology’s “Fair Game” Policy

An Austrian Serial Killer: The Strange Story of “Rehabilitated” Murderer Jack Unterweger

Book review: The Vienna Woods Killer, by John Leake John Leake, an American writer who lived nearly a decade in Vienna, wrote this definitive account of Austrian serial killer Jack Unterweger. Unterweger’s is quite the interesting story, not least because the crime of serial murder is far from common in Austria. Combined with his background of alleged rehabilitation and crime spree across Austria and internationally, … Continue reading An Austrian Serial Killer: The Strange Story of “Rehabilitated” Murderer Jack Unterweger

Nonfiction Titles Celebrating Women in Translation Month

August is Women in Translation month, an annual celebration of writing by women translated into English. I’m late to be sharing anything about this, but in case you can still catch something, bookstores often spotlight titles and hold sales, host special events and readings, and many publishers offer discounts on titles by women in translation. Maybe there’s still time to catch some sales and events, … Continue reading Nonfiction Titles Celebrating Women in Translation Month

The America Hiding in Plain Sight

Book review: Hidden America, by Jeanne Marie Laskas (Amazon / Book Depository) 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 … Continue reading The America Hiding in Plain Sight

Into the Heart of Texas

Book review: God Save Texas, by Lawrence Wright (Amazon / Book Depository) 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 … 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 Amazon / Book Depository 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 … Continue reading A Journalist on Clinton’s Campaigns and Her Own Role in Covering Them

Sharp Essays on America’s Social, Political, and Economic Bruises

Book review: The View from Flyover Country, by Sarah Kendzior Amazon An old adage says to write what you know. As a journalist living in a decayed Midwestern city waiting – and waiting and waiting – for the Great Recession to end, that was what I knew. Political writer, analyst and academic researcher of authoritarian states Sarah Kendzior rose to prominence a few years ago … Continue reading Sharp Essays on America’s Social, Political, and Economic Bruises

Vanished in a Strange Land: Iceland’s Infamous Crime Alongside Cultural History

Book review: Out of Thin Air, by Anthony Adeane (Amazon / Book Depository) This is a nation of reading and storytelling, with a rich literary history of world renown, where it is a long-standing tradition to give books to each other as gifts on Christmas Eve, where the legends of the Sagas are writ large in public spaces, and where one in ten people see … Continue reading Vanished in a Strange Land: Iceland’s Infamous Crime Alongside Cultural History

Weird, Wonderful Observations on Mysteries of Scandal, Fraud, Psychics, and Other Curiosities

Book review: Lost at Sea, by Jon Ronson Amazon So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed is one of those books that I haven’t been able to decide if I should read. But I knew as soon as I heard comedian Karen Kilgariff describe another of British journalist Jon Ronson’s books, Lost at Sea, that I had to read this one immediately. I love journalistic essays, especially ones dealing … Continue reading Weird, Wonderful Observations on Mysteries of Scandal, Fraud, Psychics, and Other Curiosities

A View From the Border

Book review: The Line Becomes a River, by Francisco Cantú (Amazon / Book Depository) When I was in school, I spent all this time studying international relations, immigration, border security. I was always reading about policy and economics, looking at all these complex academic ways of addressing this big unsolvable problem. When I made the decision to apply for this job, I had the idea … Continue reading A View From the Border