The Perfect Storm of the Opioid Epidemic

Book review: Dreamland, by Sam Quinones “Crime was at historic lows, drug overdose deaths at record highs. A happy façade covered a disturbing reality. I grew consumed by this story. It was about America and Mexico, about addiction and marketing, about wealth and poverty, about happiness and how to achieve it. I saw it as an epic woven by threads from all over. It took … Continue reading The Perfect Storm of the Opioid Epidemic

One Woman’s Story of Life in the FLDS

Book review: Escape, by Carolyn Jessop with Laura Palmer Instead of playing hide-and-seek as children, we played Apocalypse. When I saw that Rachel Jeffs, daughter of Warren Jeffs of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints was releasing a memoir, Breaking Free, I figured I should tackle some of the other FLDS memoirs I’ve had on my reading list before getting any new ones. If like me, you’re … Continue reading One Woman’s Story of Life in the FLDS

Follow the Money: Examining What’s Known About Trump & Co. in Russia

Book review: Collusion, by Luke Harding How to explain Trump’s consistent praise of Putin? In the febrile months leading up to the November 8, 2016 vote, Trump had lambasted not only Clinton and Obama but also his Republican Party rivals, Saturday Night Live, the “failing” New York Times, the U.S. media in general—his favorite enemy—and Meryl Streep. And others. It was a long list. Russia’s … Continue reading Follow the Money: Examining What’s Known About Trump & Co. in Russia

An Obama Speechwriter On Work, Country, and Getting Things Done in the White House

Book review: Thanks, Obama by David Litt Few activities offer less upside than a staring contest with the president. But now, having started one, I didn’t know how to stop. I considered averting my gaze, like a shy maiden in a Jane Austen novel, but that would only make things more awkward. I kept looking at President Obama. President Obama kept looking at me. Finally, after … Continue reading An Obama Speechwriter On Work, Country, and Getting Things Done in the White House

Nonfiction Favorites for #NonfictionNovember

It’s #NonfictionNovember this month, with different sites hosting different topics each week to post about, all celebrating and exploring great nonfiction. I considered participating earlier, but it’s always nonfiction day/week/month in my life and it was easier to just write book reviews like usual instead of thinking about topics or lists. I’m a lazy blogger at the moment. But this week had such an great … Continue reading Nonfiction Favorites for #NonfictionNovember

An Expat Upstate: Perspectives on American Small Town Life

Book review: One Hundred Miles From Manhattan, by Guillermo Fesser Americans tend to get restless and move around a lot. They effortlessly leave one state for another. Don’t think it’s easy to guess their origin. Curiously, Americans tend to tell me they are from the place where they currently live rather than sharing the name of their city of birth. If I ask someone from … Continue reading An Expat Upstate: Perspectives on American Small Town Life

Secrets and Stories from the American Museum of Natural History

My photo of the American Museum of Natural History in New York, the last time I visited in December 2016. I don’t know why I took the picture from that angle with the tree barging in, it looks spooky. This magnificent granite pile, this Museum on the west side of Central Park, between two rivers, in the New World, holds between its walls perhaps the … Continue reading Secrets and Stories from the American Museum of Natural History

Hurston/Wright Legacy Award-Winner: Racial Politics and Murder in Post-Reconstruction Philadelphia

Book review: Hannah Mary Tabbs and the Disembodied Torso, by Kali Nicole Gross In 1887, in a pond just outside of Philadelphia, the dismembered torso of a man was discovered, triggering a search that eventually led to Hannah Mary Tabbs, a Maryland native and seemingly very unpleasant lady, according to many who knew her. She had been, quite scandalously for a black woman in 19th century … Continue reading Hurston/Wright Legacy Award-Winner: Racial Politics and Murder in Post-Reconstruction Philadelphia

The Road Will Always Open Before You: Business and Life Lessons from Nobu’s Heart

Book review: Nobu, by Nobu Matsuhisa Along the way, I have faced some major stumbling blocks. But each time, I have managed to overcome them. Whenever I hit an obstacle, I search for a solution and carry on. Gradually, the hurdles that appear before me have become smaller. I find that if I plow ahead, no matter how impossible that may seem, and just do … Continue reading The Road Will Always Open Before You: Business and Life Lessons from Nobu’s Heart

America’s Historian Evokes The National Spirit, Its Lessons and Promise

The American SpiritBook review: The American Spirit, by David McCullough History, I like to think, is a larger way of looking at life. It is a source of strength, of inspiration. It is about who we are and what we stand for and is essential to our understanding of what our own role should be in our time. History, as can’t be said too often, … Continue reading America’s Historian Evokes The National Spirit, Its Lessons and Promise

Sweet, Funny, Smart Takes On Life’s Wilderness

Book review: Vacationland, by John Hodgman “Nobody knows,” I said, meaning at least one person does not know, and that person is me. I didn’t know anything about John Hodgman (comedian, author, Daily Show and This American Life contributor, podcaster) at all before I picked up his most recent book, a collection of essayish memoirs, Vacationland. I came to it without any preconceptions about him or his material and finished … Continue reading Sweet, Funny, Smart Takes On Life’s Wilderness

Exploitation and Triumph of Two Brothers, in the Circus and the South

Book review: Truevine, by Beth Macy Beth Macy, a former Roanoke Times journalist, first heard about the Muse brothers during her work at the paper in the 1980s. Their story was well-known, but not in much detail: the outline was that two albino African-American brothers were kidnapped by the circus and spent years touring in the freak show before their mother found them again. Whether they’d … Continue reading Exploitation and Triumph of Two Brothers, in the Circus and the South