Death's Jest-Book by Reginald Hill
A review by Georgie Lewis
Reginald Hill's detecting duo, "Fat Andy" Dalziel and Peter Pascoe, work together like Velcro. Dalziel's caustic (and frequently obscene) tongue and overbearing character is the prickly stuff that binds with Pascoe's anxious and tightly wound persona. Pascoe's perpetual disquietude also stems from an ongoing obsession with an ex-prisoner, Franny Roote, that he put away years ago. Roote, and his subsequent release from prison, has remained on the fringes of Pascoe's mind, benign, obsequious, and just a little unsettling.
In Dialogues of the Dead a series of seemingly unrelated deaths have...
Cobra II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq by Michael R. Gordon and General Bernard E. Trainor
Optimism Goes to War
A review by David Rieff
Self-doubt, let alone pessimism, is generally not part of the mentality of people who start wars, and certainly not of those who plan to unleash the most powerful army in the history of the world against a third-rate ill-equipped military force commanded by a man whom one Marine commander described as "dumb as a rock" and his two psychopathic and hopelessly incompetent sons. Three years after our invasion of Iraq, an elective war, we know that the optimism not only of the senior members of the Bush administration, but also of the many liberal hawks who supported the toppling of Saddam Hussein,...
Armenian Golgotha: A Memoir of the Armenian Genocide, 1915-1918 (Vintage) by Grigoris Balakian
A review by Benjamin Moser
The Armenian genocide is a "controversial" issue that can always be counted on to annoy the Turkish government, which has dedicated its considerable diplomatic and economic resources to repressing its memory. This endeavor is helped by our distance from events that took place during the First World War: I suspect most people are as hazy on the details of the events as I was when I picked up Grigoris Balakian's Armenian Golgotha (Vintage, $20).
Balakian, a priest from Constantinople, was arrested with other Armenian notables on April 24, 1915, the "Red Sunday" commemorated as the beginning...
A Tear at the Edge of Creation: A Radical New Vision for Life in an Imperfect Universe by Marcelo Gleiser
Embracing Nature's Imperfections
A review by Lee Smolin
We live in an era of the personal: Fiction is often structured as a character's journey of discovery, memoirs are hugely popular, and in the wake of the "new journalism" of Norman Mailer, Joan Didion, Truman Capote and others, it is not unusual for the author of a work of nonfiction to include himself or herself as a character. In some of the best recent writing by scientists, such as Janna Levin's A Mad Man Dreams of Turing Machines and Joao Magueijo's A Brilliant Darkness, the disembodied voice of authority has been abandoned for a more novelistic style in which the author's search for...
The Kennedy Tapes: Inside the White House During the Cuban Missile Crisis by Ernest R. May and Philip D. Zelikow
What JFK Really Said
A review by Sheldon M. Stern
[Ed. note: This review originally ran in the May 2000 issue of the Atlantic Monthly].
My twenty-three years as the historian at the John F. Kennedy Library, in Boston, were punctuated by intensive work on sound recordings. I conducted scores of taped oral-history interviews and verified the accuracy of the transcripts, edited President John F. Kennedy's recorded telephone conversations, and, in 1981-1982, evaluated tapes made during the Cuban missile crisis, in October of 1962, as the library prepared for their declassification. The work was fascinating and exhilarating, but the poor...
The Beast in the Garden: A Modern Parable of Man and Nature by David Baron
A review by Katharine Mieszkowski
Last Thursday, Jan. 8, at around noon, a mountain lion killed and ate a 35-year-old biker at the Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park in Orange County, Calif., just half a mile from the nearest suburban home.
The competitive cyclist's mauled corpse was found partially buried under sand, cached for later feeding. Another mountain biker riding in the same wilderness area that afternoon barely escaped the 110-pound cougar, when other cyclists fought off the cat as it clutched her head in its jaws. (The terms "mountain lion," "cougar," "puma," "catamount" and "panther" all refer to the same New World ...