Dark Roots and the Myth or Reality of a European Family History

Book review: A Crime in the Family, by Sacha Batthyany Swiss journalist Sacha Batthyany heard a disturbing rumor: near the end of the Second World War, his Aunt Margit was alleged to have participated in the massacre of hundreds of Jewish prisoners in the small Austrian town of Rechnitz. The crime took place during a party at her home attended by Nazi officers. He’s haunted, … Continue reading Dark Roots and the Myth or Reality of a European Family History

Ladies of Cryptography: The Women Who Broke War’s Codes

Book review: Code Girls, by Liza Mundy I’m in some kind of hush, hush business. Somewhere in Wash. D.C. If I say anything I’ll get hung for sure. I guess I signed my life away. But I don’t mind it. Code Girls, author Liza Mundy’s history of the women who worked tirelessly cracking codes to aid the American Army and Navy in World War II, opens with … Continue reading Ladies of Cryptography: The Women Who Broke War’s Codes

A Reporter, A Newspaper, And A Rural Cold Case

Book review: Mary Jane’s Ghost, by Ted Gregory Histories – call them stories if you like – never really end. It’s more like they continue to unfold, but we’ve left them; they’ve ceased to resonate. Chicago Tribune general assignment reporter Ted Gregory gets roped into the investigation and conspiracies of a fifty-year-old cold case while ruminating on the state of print newspapers and the difficulty in … Continue reading A Reporter, A Newspaper, And A Rural Cold Case

History Speaks: Research and Analytics Catch A Serial Killer

Book review: The Man From the Train, by Bill James and Rachel McCarthy James “He was a tiny man who cast a huge and terrible shadow, and he knew that, and in his mind he was the size of his shadow.” Between 1898 and 1912, an unbelievably large number of families were bludgeoned to death in their homes while they slept, across a wide swath … Continue reading History Speaks: Research and Analytics Catch A Serial Killer

The Minutes of An American Tragedy

Image of World Trade Center fog, November 1998. By Flickr user Beija (http://www.flickr.com/photos/beija/243997357) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons   Book review: 102 Minutes, by Jim Dwyer and Kevin Flynn From the moment the first hijacked plane hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center on the morning of September 11, 2001, 102 minutes passed before both towers ultimately collapsed. As we know all too well, … Continue reading The Minutes of An American Tragedy

Jane’s Life in Poetry, Through The Eyes of Her Niece

Header image of a southwest view from the shoreline of Lake Michigan in Muskegon, Jane’s hometown, by Darwin Smith Jr. [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons Book review: Jane: A Murder, by Maggie Nelson “You know, for a world that demands direction, I certainly have none. Will I be a teacher? Will I go to France?”  An excerpt from law student Jane Mixer’s diary. … Continue reading Jane’s Life in Poetry, Through The Eyes of Her Niece

An American’s Ideas and Impressions From Istanbul

Book review: Notes on a Foreign Country, by Suzy Hansen This is a book about an American living abroad in the era of American decline…As an American abroad now, [post-Iraq and Afghanistan wars] you do not have the same crazy, smiling confidence. You do not want to speak so loud. You feel always the vague risk of breaking something. In Turkey and elsewhere…I felt an almost physical sensation of intellectual and emotional … Continue reading An American’s Ideas and Impressions From Istanbul

The Life and Science of the Physicist Who Changed Quantum Theory

Book review: Erwin Schrödinger and the Quantum Revolution, by John Gribbin In honor of the 130th anniversary of Erwin Schrödinger’s birth on August 12, I’m posting a previously published review I wrote on a pop biography of his life and work. The intricacies of a life are woven inextricably into the weave of work and the professional world. In Erwin Schrödinger and the Quantum Revolution, biographer John Gribbin … Continue reading The Life and Science of the Physicist Who Changed Quantum Theory

A Voice from the Gulag

Book review: The Day Will Pass Away, by Ivan Chistyakov So even my inner word recedes day by day into eternity until it reaches freezing point. You start believing they can make you lose all emotion. Yet every day brings you nearer to freedom. Only, what kind of path are you walking to get there? A path of defeats, misery and rage. A path that makes you even more … Continue reading A Voice from the Gulag

Culinary Biographies of Six Surprising Women

Book review: What She Ate, by Laura Shapiro Culinary historian and longtime Newsweek writer Laura Shapiro examines the lives of six very different women through the lens of their relationships to food, cooking, and culinary culture in this lively, readable group biography. “Tell me what you eat,” wrote the philosopher-gourmand Brillat-Savarin, “and I shall tell you what you are.’ It’s one of the most famous aphorisms in the literature of food, … Continue reading Culinary Biographies of Six Surprising Women

Memory, History, And Family Roots in Latvia

Book review: Among the Living and the Dead, by Inara Verzemnieks “This is why I had journeyed to my grandmother’s lost village, nestled at the edge of Latvia, which is itself nestled at the edge of Europe’s psychic north, south, east and west, or, as Pope Innocent III described it…’the edge of the known world’.  Because I imagined, maybe, I might find her again in the old … Continue reading Memory, History, And Family Roots in Latvia

Setting The Record Straight On The Donner Party

Book review: The Best Land Under Heaven, by Michael Wallis For as much true crime as I read and watch, I draw the line at cannibalism and anything near it. I mean, you have to have a line, you know? I’m fine with my extreme squeamishness about it. I feel like it would be worse if I wasn’t. Two summers ago, I read Nathaniel Philbrick’s In … Continue reading Setting The Record Straight On The Donner Party