The Truth Behind a D.C. Mystery and Media Frenzy

Book review: Finding Chandra, by Scott Higham and Sari Horwitz Washington Post reporters and Pulitzer Prize winners Scott Higham and Sari Horwitz expand on their thirteen-part series about the truth of the Chandra Levy disappearance and murder investigations, revealing how police focused on Congressman Gary Condit, with whom the Bureau of Prisons intern was having an affair, at the expense of more viable suspects, one … Continue reading The Truth Behind a D.C. Mystery and Media Frenzy

Snakes in the Church

Book review: Salvation on Sand Mountain “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 killed, and I learned about the Southern Pentecostal groups that interpret a … Continue reading Snakes in the Church

An American’s Insights into Russia, 1995-2005-2015

Book review: Bears in the Streets, by Lisa Dickey No fewer than six people in six different cities (and four different time zones) had informed me that this is what Americans think. “Bears in the streets,” I realized, was the apparently ubiquitous shorthand for the Russians’ feeling that the West doesn’t take them seriously enough – that we think they’re primitive or backward. Lifelong Russophile Lisa … Continue reading An American’s Insights into Russia, 1995-2005-2015

Victims of South Central

Book review: The Grim Sleeper, by Christine Pelisek I noticed Christine Pelisek while watching episodes of true crime series People Magazine Investigates. Formerly a reporter for LA Weekly, she now covers crime for People magazine (and looks like a non-terrifying version of weird fashion goblin Rachel Zoe, which is why I always notice her on the show.) I remembered this case both from the news at the time of the murderer’s arrest, but more … Continue reading Victims of South Central

Jihad, Choices, and Fearless Journalism

Book review: I Was Told to Come Alone, by Souad Mekhennet Sometimes a reporter is simply lucky enough to pick the right restaurant for tea. That’s one way journalist Souad Mekhennet, a contributor to the New York Times and Washington Post, among others, and a veritable force in modern journalism, describes her experience in 2001, listening in on conversations of the regulars in a Muslim neighborhood in Hamburg. Some of … Continue reading Jihad, Choices, and Fearless Journalism

All About Eddie

Book review: Believe Me, by Eddie Izzard “I was a bit bonkers. But good bonkers. There is a difference.” Eddie Izzard is a beloved British comedian, actor, activist and marathon runner. He’s also known, for better or for worse, for being a proud transvestite. I say for better or for worse because as he explains in his new memoir Believe Me, whatever he chooses to wear is only a … Continue reading All About Eddie

Roxane Gay on Hunger in Its Many Forms

Book review: Hunger, by Roxane Gay The story of my body is not a story of triumph. This is not a weight-loss memoir. There will be no picture of a thin version of me, my slender body emblazoned across this book’s cover, with me standing in one leg of my former, fatter self’s jeans. This is not a book that will offer motivation. I don’t … Continue reading Roxane Gay on Hunger in Its Many Forms

Tea Partiers in Their Own Words

Book review: Strangers in Their Own Land, by Arlie Russell Hochschild In the last decade, but especially the last few years, we’ve seen an especially polarizing shift between the American political left and right, culminating in the election of a previously non-politically-involved narcissistic billionaire (or is he?) bully with an inferiority complex. But even before that menace was in the White House, the unrest and dissatisfaction from the … Continue reading Tea Partiers in Their Own Words

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, Belle Gunness. A former employee, Ray Lamphere, was charged with … Continue reading Black Widow of the Heartland

Behind-the-Scenes Glimpses into the Mind of David Sedaris

Book review: Theft by Finding, by David Sedaris “In order to record your life, you sort of need to live it. Not at your desk, but beyond it. Out in the world where it’s so beautiful and complex and painful that sometimes you just need to sit down and write about it.” David Sedaris, beloved humorist and essayist known for his dry, witty takes on the absurdities … Continue reading Behind-the-Scenes Glimpses into the Mind of David Sedaris

Royals to Refugees: Roots of an Afghan Family

Book review: Crossing the River Kabul, by Kevin McLean Author Kevin McLean adopts the voice of Baryalai Popal to tell his dramatic true story, spanning decades, of escaping Afghanistan in 1980 during the Russian invasion and war, and his eventual trek to America. Now an American citizen, Baryalai (called Bar) was born into one of the two historic royal families of Afghanistan. Bar’s family history and … Continue reading Royals to Refugees: Roots of an Afghan Family