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December 2011

Posted 12.15.11:  The Washington Post named Reckless Endangerment by Gretchen Morgenson and Joshua Rosner one of the Notable Nonfiction Books of 2011, "The authors make a powerful argument that cozy connections between government and the financial industry were the primary cause of the financial crisis."
Posted 12.06.11:  Writing on perfect books for holiday reading in the Los Angeles Times, Nick Owchar points to: "James Romm in his engaging Ghost on the Throne: The Death of Alexander the Great and the War for Crown and Empire. The Macedonian Empire reached the heights of magnificence in 325 BC, and rapidly declined two years later with Alexander's death. What happened? The years after his death turned into 'one of the most intense and complex contests in history,' and Romm charts all the reversals and alliances with the consummate skill of a great detective. Speaking of detectives, Michael Dirda sheds light not on a lost empire or distant historical figure, but on Arthur Conan Doyle in his graceful meditation On Conan Doyle."
Posted 12.01.11:  Peter Schweizer's Throw Them All Out: How Politicians and Their Friends Get Rich Off Insider Stock Tips, Land Deals, and Cronyism That Would Send the Rest of Us to Prison is #6 on the New York Times bestseller list, last week it was at #13.

November 2011

Posted 11.30.11:  Motion picture/television rights to Whitney Casey's The Man Plan have been optioned by Harbinger Pictures, producers of the recent much acclaimed movie, "The Help".
Posted 11.28.11:  The New York Times has named Assassins of the Turquoise Palace by Roya Hakakian a "Notable Book of the Year".
Posted 11.24.11:  Peter Schweizer's Throw Them All Out: How Politicians and Their Friends Get Rich Off Insider Stock Tips, Land Deals, and Cronyism That Would Send the Rest of Us to Prison debuts on the Publishers Weekly bestseller list at #2 and on the New York Times bestseller list at #13. It was published Nov. 15 by Times Books/Henry Holt.

October 2011

Posted 10.28.11:  “Occupy Wall Street makes an economic critique that echoes the president's, though more bluntly: the rich are bad, down with the elites. It's all ad hoc, more poetry slam than platform. Too bad it's not serious in its substance. There's a lot to rebel against, to want to throw off. If they want to make a serious economic and political critique, they should make the one Gretchen Morgenson and Joshua Rosner make in Reckless Endangerment.... It is a blow-by-blow recounting of how politicians—Democrats and Republicans—passed the laws that encouraged the banks to make the loans that would never be repaid, and that would result in your lost job…. The story is a scandal, and the book should be the bible of Occupy Wall Street. But they seem as incapable of seeing government as part of the problem as Republicans seem of seeing business as part of the problem.”—Peggy Noonan, The Wall Street Journal
Posted 10.18.11:  "In Reckless Endangerment, Gretchen Morgenson, a veteran New York Times reporter, and Joshua Rosner, a consultant, provide the best account yet of how this system went off the rails. So successful have the pair been at ferreting out the details that the book is at the top of Amazon's worldwide bestseller list…. Reckless Endangerment may be the umpteenth book on the crisis, but it sheds much new light on its causes."—The Economist, Oct. 15, 2011
Posted 10.18.11:  "A brilliant look at the ancient world…. Having written extensively on the history of ancient Greece, it is no surprise that classics professor Victor Davis Hanson would set his first novel in that era. His new book, The End of Sparta is an intelligent and engaging work set in the mid-4th century B.C., when Theban general Epaminondas leads his army of Boeotian hoplites against the power of the Spartan hegemony over Greece…. Hanson's considerable intellectual skills are on display throughout this work…. The complexities of politics and society are explored brilliantly here, without weighing down the narrative. The characters are by turns sympathetic and cruel, and entirely believable…. Where Hanson really shines is in his description of hoplite warfare…. As can be expected from the subject matter, The End of Sparta is a violent book about a violent world. The novel also addresses sexual themes of the day, though neither the violence nor the sex comes across as exploitative or gratuitous. Rather, Hanson presents these things as the Greeks understood them—simply a part of life."—Deseret News
Posted 10.06.11:  "James Romm's Ghost on the Throne: The Death of Alexander the Great and the War for Crown and Empire is the thrilling story of the paths these claimants followed in the years after Alexander's death. Its action resembles nothing as much as a film noir, played out on the open expanses of the modern Middle East, the Balkans, and North Africa. Double-crossings, femmes fatales, hired guns, and dirty money are the order of the day. And this is not to mention the man-eating crocodiles, man-trampling elephants, and a poison-filled mule's hoof. Romm is professor of Classics at Bard, a discipline more commonly given to scholarship as dry as the clay on the British Museum's tablet. But he turns out to have quite a gift for the hardboiled…. [The book] has the briskness of a screenplay and is organized as a series of brief scenes, most of them introduced by the date, location and the major players: 'Aristotle at Athens, 323,' 'Ptolemy in Egypt, 322,' and so on. These little inter-titles prove indispensable, since I simply cannot exaggerate how complicated the aftermath of Alexander's reign was—and its complexity is only exacerbated by the state of the sources…and it is a marvel to watch how judiciously Romm navigates them.… Bringing the sources into artful alignment—affirming one account here, dismissing another there—takes expert eyes, and Romm clearly has them. For all its lurid details, then, Ghost on the Throne is emphatically not ancient pulp, but a careful work of fine scholarship. And not merely on the minor—but crucial—questions about the trustworthiness of various sources, but also, more importantly, on the geopolitical questions that Alexander's massive empire raised.… It binds an otherwise mind-boggling narrative into a skillfully coherent whole."—Brendan Boyle, The New Criterion
Posted 10.05.11:  The New York Observer's "Very Short List" on Backward Ran Sentences, a collection of Wolcott Gibbs's work, just published by Bloomsbury: "Finally back in print. It's delicious stuff. You'll find 'Talk of the Town' stories, profiles, pitch-perfect parodies (the one of Ernest Hemingway is especially wicked), and reviews—of A Streetcar Named Desire, Death of a Salesman, Waiting for Godot, and dozens of other plays—drawn from Gibbs's stint as the magazine's theater critic. Gibbs wasn't always right, and he didn't go out of his way to be nice. But he was always sharp, and every one of these pieces could be a primer on everything that magazine articles should be (but very seldom are). Editor Thomas Vinciguerra has also included a crib sheet—'Theory and Practice of Editing New Yorker Articles'—that aspiring writers should memorize immediately."

September 2011

Posted 09.28.11:  "Bloom's impassioned, daringly personal appreciation comes at a moment when the King James text as a basic cultural resource is doubly threatened. From one side, fundamentalists, with their insistence on a narrow literal reading of the Bible, are increasing. From another, politically correct educational bureaucrats, in the patronising, mistaken belief that a 'newer' Bible will widen access, have scrapped the KJB—and with it the aesthetic strength that declares the Bible to be poetry, not dogma. Bloom's book answers them both…. Product of decades of thought, this is an old man's book—wise while verging on the sentimental, pared down yet also self-indulgent, sometimes belligerent or desperate—whose overarching message should resonate nevertheless with readers of all generations."—Jackie Wullschlager, Financial Times, on The Shadow of a Great Rock: A Literary Appreciation of the King James Bible by Harold Bloom
Posted 09.15.11:  Kirkus Reviews on Victor Davis Hanson's forthcoming novel, The End of Sparta,"Classicist, farmer and conservative commentator Hanson turns to fiction to tell the tale of Sparta's final days…. Genuine history within the Trojan horse of an action-packed war story…. A worthy historical re-creation: Hanson has high-minded purposes in depicting the triumph of democracy over dictatorship, but there's plenty of exciting swordplay, too."

August 2011

Posted 08.23.11:  "Fans of The New Yorker will welcome this collection of pieces written by Gibbs spanning the late 1920s through the early 1950s. New York Times contributor Vinciguerra intends to rescue Gibbs from growing obscurity with his introductory biographical essay and careful selection of articles.... Readers who enjoy the style and wit of The New Yorker will love this collection. It is easy to dip into for the perfect piece, and the large selection will satisfy."—Library Journal, on Backward Ran Sentences: The Best of Wolcott Gibbs from The New Yorker, with a Foreword by P.J. O'Rourke, Edited by Thomas Vinciguerra
Posted 08.22.11:  Publishers Weekly on Victor Davis Hanson's forthcoming The End of Sparta: A Novel, “Leading classicist Hanson focuses on the Theban defeat of the renowned Spartan army in 371 B.C.E. The hero of the tale is the Theban general Epaminondas, a devotee of Pythagoras and a warrior with unconventional attitudes about warfare, life, and death. His unexpected choices—not to mention the Spartan underestimation of the Theban ‘pigs'—allow the Thebans to fulfill the prophecies of Sparta's downfall, many of which focus on the farmer Mêlon (meaning ‘apple'), whose journey from reluctant soldier to enthusiastic liberator gives the novel its emotional heart. Battle scenes are conveyed in exacting detail; a glossary of names and numerous line diagrams help readers differentiate characters and envisage the sites of central dramas. Told in a somewhat elevated style that simultaneously honors and updates the rhetorical heights of classic Greek histories, Hanson's novel is both old-fashioned and lively. Given his notable body of work, it's no wonder that his first fiction effort is rich in authentic detail and narrated with a confident authorial voice. His vigorous narrative not only offers insight into arms and armor, but also into the hearts of the men who bore them.”
Posted 08.19.11:  “This rich, engrossing book reminds us of the strangeness of even heroic destinies.”—Richard Rayner, Los Angeles Times, on An Anatomy of Addiction: Sigmund Freud, William Halsted, and the Miracle Drug Cocaine by Howard Markel
Posted 08.17.11:  Two nice reviews from Publishers Weekly for Harold Bloom's The Shadow of a Great Rock, "Setting aside 'all questions of truth or of how to live,' he unpacks the aesthetic qualities of the KJB in a charmingly idiosyncratic manner…. Reading the deeply informed opinions of an experienced literary critic, readers learn tantalizing tidbits of Hebrew vocabulary, face the New Testament's anti-Semitism, and see the KJB's ineluctable effects on Western literature.... Bloom's erudite mix of acerbic judgments (e.g., the New Testament's literary ugliness) and awed delight ('the biblical David is an incarnate poem') offers readers a fresh take on an old book.", and for David Lehman's yearly anthology (with Kevin Young this year's Guest Editor), Best American Poetry 2011, "As ever, there is something for every poetry lover, as well as for readers who might not yet know they love poetry."
Posted 08.05.11:  In its ninth week on the New York Times Bestseller list, Reckless Endangerment by Gretchen Morgenson and Josh Rosner will be #11 on the August 14th list, and An Anatomy of Addiction by Howard Markel makes its debut at #30.
Posted 08.05.11:  “The distinguished medical historian Howard Markel's rich, revelatory new book... An Anatomy of Addiction: Sigmund Freud, William Halsted, and the Miracle Drug Cocaine is like the early pages of a family photo album, showing us cocaine as it has not been seen for over 100 years…. Markel's account takes on the mesmerizing quality of an animal attack filmed in slow motion and high resolution, as the rapacious chemistry of the new drug falls on the refined intellectual elite of American medicine and paralyzes and consumes them…. He's a careful writer and a tireless researcher, and as a trained physician himself, Markel is able to pronounce on medical matters with firmness and authority.”—Lev Grossman, Time
Posted 08.02.11:  "Fast-paced and absorbing…. Captivating…a sterling account of a little discussed era in ancient history."—Publishers Weekly on James Romm's forthcoming Ghost on the Throne: The Death of Alexander the Great and the War for Crown and Empire. Knopf publishes in October.