Books May 2006

Cover to Cover

A selective guide to current releases
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CURRENT AFFAIRS

Impostor
by Bruce Bartlett (Doubleday)
A prominent Reaganite denounces George W. Bush as a faux-conservative in the Nixon mold.

America's Coming War With China
by Ted Galen Carpenter (Palgrave Macmillan)
A Cato Institute scholar envisions the outbreak of war between China and the United States (here projected for 2013), unless the latter can disentangle its interests from Taiwan's.

Fast Boat to China
by Andrew Ross (Pantheon)
A skeptical take on pro-China boosterism, gained through the same participant-observer techniques the author brought to his Celebration Chronicles, about Disney's Edenic planned community.

The Battle for Peace
by Tony Zinni and Tony Koltz (Palgrave Macmillan)
A former centcom commander calls for more multilateralism and meaningful long-term planning in foreign policy.

Among Empires
by Charles S. Maier (Harvard)
A historian weighs the current U.S. hegemony against that enjoyed by Rome, Britain, the Ottomans, and the Moghuls at the respective heights of their power.

The Roman Predicament
by Harold James (Princeton)
Updating Edward Gibbon and Adam Smith for our times, a historian examines the collapse of the rule-based world order instituted under the Roman Empire, and what it can tell us about the current global situation.

House of War
by Harold James (Princeton)
Updating Edward Gibbon and Adam Smith for our times, a historian examines the collapse of the rule-based world order instituted under the Roman Empire, and what it can tell us about the current global situation.

Journey of the Jihadist
by Fawaz A. Gerges (Harcourt)
Militant Islamists, this Lebanese Christian author argues, are truly authoritarian, but their rising profile may have the ironic effect of opening the door to pluralism and transparency in the Muslim world.

Overthrow
by Stephen Kinzer (Times Books)
A New York Times correspondent maps the storied 110-year tradition of American regime change, from Hawaii to Iraq, describing the fourteen governments the United States has most directly overthrown.

America Against the World
by Andrew Kohut and Bruce Stokes (Times Books)
Drawing on data from the Pew Global Attitudes Project, the authors examine the rising tide of anti-Americanism.


U.S. HISTORY

The Scratch of a Pen
by Colin G. Calloway (Oxford)
Forget the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence: it was the Treaty of Paris, signed in 1763 at the close of the French and Indian War, that set the stage for the birth of the United States.

Rough Crossings
by Simon Schama (Ecco)
Seeking freedom, tens of thousands of slaves cast their lot with the British during the American Revolution.

Patriotic Fire
by Winston Groom (Knopf)
Andrew Jackson and Jean Laffite team up to protect New Orleans from British invaders, in this nonfiction book from Forrest Gump's creator.


WORLD HISTORY

Osman's Dream
by Caroline Finkel (Basic)
Seven centuries of the Ottoman Empire.

Earthly Powers
by Michael Burleigh (HarperCollins)
The first of two planned volumes that will trace the intertwining of religion and political violence, this one focusing on the period between the French Revolution and World War I.

Victorian London
by Liza Picard (St. Martin's)
A social history covering the years between 1840 and 1870, the first chapter of which focuses exclusively on the ambient stench that daily confronted Victorian Londoners.

June 1941: Hitler and Stalin
by John Lukacs (Yale)
Arguing that history is the product of specific choices rather than impersonal forces, the historian watches as two specific people make very specific decisions that will shape the rest of the twentieth century.

Islamic Imperialism
by Efraim Karsh (Yale)
A historian posits a will to domination as an essential ingredient of Islam, from Muhammad to the Ottomans to Osama bin Laden.


BIOGRAPHY

A Godly Hero

by Michael Kazin (Knopf)
His Scopes-trial star turn notwithstanding, William Jennings Bryan here emerges as a proto-New Dealer and an exponent of an unrealized religious left.

Kingfish

by Richard D. White Jr. (Random House)
Huey Long: ruthless autocrat or populist hero? Actually, both.

Fatal Purity

by Ruth Scurr (Metropolitan)
Maximilien Robespierre began his career as a provincial lawyer opposed to the death penalty; he ended up as something quite different. He also looked like a cat and was partial to elaborate waistcoats.

Stravinsky: The Second Exile

by Stephen Walsh (Knopf)
The concluding volume of this two-part biography follows Igor Stravinsky from Paris to two destinations perhaps not immediately associated with the composer: California and the 1970s.


SOCIETY AND CULTURE

The Way Hollywood Tells It
by David Bordwell (California)
A close reading of the narrative and visual craft behind the modern Hollywood blockbuster.

White Guilt
by Shelby Steele (HarperCollins)
As official racism in the United States receded, a destructive moral relativism advanced, argues the prominent black conservative scholar.

1973 Nervous Breakdown
by Andreas Killen (Bloomsbury)
A study identifying 1973—the year of Roe v. Wade, the earliest stirrings of punk rock, and the premiere of the first reality-TV show—as the definitive end of the sixties and a turning point in contemporary history.

First in Violence, Deepest in Dirt
by Jeffrey S. Adler (Harvard)
Chicago's murder rate quadrupled between 1875 and 1920 as modernity firmly took hold. Not exactly a coincidence, this criminologist argues.


Business and Economics

Why Most Things Fail
by Paul Ormerod (Pantheon)
An economist identifies failure, not success, as the most telling of all economic indicators.

Rome, Inc.
by Stanley Bing (Atlas Books)
A leading business satirist projects the rise and fall of Rome onto contemporary corporate culture, attempting to extract meaningful management lessons therefrom.

The Economics of Attention
by Richard A. Lanham (Chicago)
The future of human perception will be governed not by a surplus of information but by a scarcity of attention required to process said information.

Revolutionary Wealth
by Alvin and Heidi Toffler (Knopf)
The noted futurists turn their gaze to the massive wealth generated by the tech revolution and how it will further change the world.

Knowledge and the Wealth of Nations
by David Warsh (Norton)
An in-depth look at the "new growth theory," conceived by Adam Smith and unproven until recently, with profound implications for us all.


science

Before the Dawn
by Nicholas Wade (Penguin Press)
A New York Times science reporter draws on new DNA-analysis techniques to examine the prehistoric people who became the ancestors of all mankind.

Success Through Failure
by Henry Petroski (Princeton)
From caveman tools to the Tacoma Narrows Bridge to the World Trade Center, failure is innovation's constant companion.


sports

Black and Blue
by Tom Adelman (Little, Brown)
A look back at the 1966 World Series, in which the underdog Orioles swept the Dodgers.

Man o' War
by Dorothy Ours (St. Martin's)
A biography of Seabiscuit's grandfather.

Clemente
by David Maraniss (Simon & Schuster)
A life of the virtuous and doomed slugger.


memoir

My Life in France
by Julia Child with Alex Prud'homme (Knopf)
A posthumously published memoir by the late chef, focusing on her time in France from 1948 to 1954, which sparked her—and, by extension, everyone else's—interest in French cooking.

A Writer's Life
by Gay Talese (Knopf)
The nonfiction master tells his own story and several others.

Teta, Mother, and Me
by Jean Said Makdisi (Norton)
Edward Said's sister's remembrance of her mother and grandmother serves as a personal history of three generations of Palestinians.

A Death in Belmont
by Sebastian Junger (Norton)
How The Perfect Storm's author's mother came face-to-face with the Boston Strangler—and lived to tell the tale.

Let Me Finish
by Roger Angell (Harcourt)
"Life is tough and brimming with loss," the longtime New Yorker contributor concludes in this collection of autobiographical essays, "and the most we can do about it is to glimpse ourselves clear now and then, and find out what we feel about familiar scenes and recurring faces this time around."


novels and short stories

My Latest Grievance
by Elinor Lipman (Houghton Mifflin)
A teenager growing up on the campus of a women's college in the 1970s has her life complicated when her father's heretofore unrevealed ex-wife moves to town.

Fortunate Son
by Walter Mosley (Little, Brown)
The lives of a privileged white boy and a sickly black boy converge and diverge unexpectedly in this novel from the creator of the Easy Rawlins mysteries.

We Are All Welcome Here
by Elizabeth Berg (Random House)
A polio-stricken woman raises her teenage daughter in mid-1960s Mississippi in this novel inspired by a true story.

Black Swan Green
by David Mitchell (Random House)
A new novel from the author of Cloud Atlas recreates the year 1982 through the eyes of a thirteen-year-old boy in rural England.

This Book Will Save Your Life
by A. M. Homes (Viking)
Biology and geology conspire to jolt a day trader out of his midlife torpor.

L'America
by Martha McPhee (Harcourt)
An American woman and an Italian man begin a love affair in the Greek islands, and subsequently face geopolitical crises great and small.

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Benjamin Healy is an Atlantic Monthly deputy managing editor.

Benjamin Schwarz is the former literary and national editor for The Atlantic. He is writing a book about Winston Churchill for Random House. More

His first piece for the magazine, "The Diversity Myth," was a cover story in 1995. Since then he's written articles and reviews on a startling array of subjects from fashion to the American South, from current fiction to the Victorian family, and from international economics to Chinese restaurants. Schwarz oversees and writes a monthly column for "Books and Critics," the magazine's cultural department, which under his editorship has expanded its coverage to include popular culture and manners and mores, as well as books and ideas. He also regularly writes the "leader" for the magazine. Before joining the Atlantic's staff, Schwarz was the executive editor of World Policy Journal, where his chief mission was to bolster the coverage of cultural issues, international economics, and military affairs. For several years he was a foreign policy analyst at the RAND Corporation, where he researched and wrote on American global strategy, counterinsurgency, counterterrorism, and military doctrine. Schwarz was also staff member of the Brookings Institution. Born in 1963, he holds a B.A. and an M.A. in history from Yale, and was a Fulbright scholar at Oxford. He has written for a variety of newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, Foreign Policy, The National Interest, and The Nation. He has lectured at a range of institutions, from the U.S. Air Force Special Operations School to the Center for Social Theory and Comparative History. He won the 1999 National Book Critics Circle award for excellence in book criticism.

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