More from Book Reviews

  • Music shields an often turbulent life

    By Mae Woods Bell
    Book Reviewer | February 19, 2016 - 6:20pm

    You don’t have to be a fan of Carly Simon and her music to enjoy this heartfelt story of love, love lost and fame in her compelling, frank and often poetic memoir.

  • Roosevelt was a loving – and tough – father

    By Mae Woods Bell
    Book Reviewer | February 12, 2016 - 4:56pm

    Understanding Theodore Roosevelt’s relationship with his children, especially his youngest son, Quentin, tells us something about the ambitious, blustering, larger-than-life, former president that we might have missed in the myriad biographies on countless bookshelves.

  • Fugger’s efforts help define capitalism

    By Mae Woods Bell
    Book Reviewer | January 22, 2016 - 6:40pm

    Perhaps calling him “The Richest Man Who Ever Lived” (Simon and Schuster; $27.95) might be a bit of a stretch, but Greg Steinmetz writes that by the time of his death in 1525, Jacob Fugger’s self-made fortune amounted to more than 2 percent of all of Europe’s gross national product.

  • Tiny jurist packs outsized influence

    By Mae Woods Bell
    Book Reviewer | January 15, 2016 - 6:32pm

    ‘Notorious RGB” (HarperCollins, $19.99) begins as a celebration of Ruth Bader Ginsburg as a personality, but it also covers the past five decades that showcase how different America has become for women, in part because of the work the U.S. Supreme Court associate justice has done on their behalf.

  • Brown unravels centuries-old mystery

    By Mae Woods Bell
    Book Reviewer | January 8, 2016 - 6:48pm

    In the 1830s, on a remote beach in Northwest Scotland, 92 carved ivory chess pieces were found along with the buckle of the bag that once contained them.

  • Con man walked away with millions

    By Mae Woods Bell
    Book Reviewer | December 25, 2015 - 4:02pm

    In an enthralling account of the life, times and crimes of Leo Koretz, author Dean Jobb brings to life the deeds of a master swindler, hedonist and womanizer against the backdrop of the Roaring Twenties in Chicago.

  • Dirda packs so much into a few words

    By Mae Woods Bell
    Book Reviewer | December 11, 2015 - 6:32pm

    This collection of Michael Dirda’s weekly blogs for The American Scholar (the magazine of the Phi Beta Kappa Society) is a casual, relaxed year’s worth of essays written from February 2012 to February 2013.

  • Grafton’s ‘X’ marks a deadly spot

    By Mae Woods Bell
    Book Reviewer | November 6, 2015 - 4:15pm

    Many years ago, Sue Grafton began writing a series about a private eye, each title using in sequence a letter of the alphabet.

  • Did madness drive one brother to kill another?

    By Mae Woods Bell
    Book Reviewer | October 16, 2015 - 5:06pm

    In a quiet atmospheric novel about love, long-time friendships, deteriorating mental health, conflicting loyalties and family relationships, Nina de Gramont takes us to “The Last September” (Algonquin; $25.95) and the last day of Charlie’s Moss’ life.

  • Survival comes at high personal costs

    By Mae Woods Bell
    Book Reviewer | September 25, 2015 - 5:20pm

    In a gripping narrative of human resilience, Susan Southard tells the stories of a group of teenage survivors caught in the atomic bombing of “Nagasaki” (Viking; $28.95) on Aug. 9, 1945.

  • Woods pens a Stone cold thriller

    By Mae Woods Bell
    Book Reviewer | September 4, 2015 - 6:54pm

    When wealthy and influential lawyer Stone Barrington, comes to the aid of a stranger accosted and roughed up by a pair of thugs, he finds himself embroiled in a case of “Naked Greed” (Putnam; $27.95) as exemplified by a gaggle of unsavory characters who seem to operate their business as it was done in the gangster-driven 1960s.

  • 'The Quartet' guides second revolution

    By Patsy Pridgen
    Life Columnist | August 29, 2015 - 5:00am

    In his latest book’s preface, Joseph J. Ellis points out that the first clause in the first sentence of Lincoln’s famous address was historically incorrect. “Lincoln began as follows: ‘Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this Continent a new Nation.’ No.

  • Divers seek 17th-century pirate ship

    By Mae Woods Bell
    Book Reviewer | August 21, 2015 - 5:33pm

    In a lively, suspenseful and true account of a search for a legendary pirate ship, journalist Robert Kurson tells the story of divers John Chatterton and John Mattera and their quest for the Golden Fleece, a pirate ship sunk in 1687 off what now is the Dominican Republic.

  • Film mayhem upends quiet Southern town

    By Mae Woods Bell
    Book Reviewer | August 14, 2015 - 4:36pm

    Thirty-something Greer Hennessy, a site location scout and manager for a big budget movie to feature a teenage idol, Kregg, has a problem.

  • Carter tallies successes – and failures

    By Mae Woods Bell
    Book Reviewer | August 7, 2015 - 1:51pm

    Some of the more personal and intimate events of his life, including his years on battleships and submarines, his time as a farmer and his reason for entering politics, are among former President Jimmy Carter’s reflections on having lived “A Full Life” (Simon and Schuster; $28).

  • Art, spycraft shape Silva novel

    By Mae Woods Bell
    Book Reviewer | July 31, 2015 - 7:34pm

    Gabriel Allon, master spy, assassin, and art restorer, with his unique combination of talents had overseen some of the greatest operations in the history of Israeli intelligence.

  • Axelrod is a ‘Believer’ about service’s value

    By Mae Woods Bell
    Book Reviewer | July 24, 2015 - 4:58pm

    In a warm, wry, and informative memoir, David Axelrod takes us behind the curtain of his 40 years in politics and expresses his faith in democratic change through his experiences as a journalist and political strategist dealing with larger-than-life personalities.

  • Archivist-turned-sleuth protects president

    By Mae Woods Bell
    Book Reviewer | July 10, 2015 - 5:12pm

    In a look into a world that to most of us is unknown – a world of government secret societies and entities whose mission is to protect us, or at least do no harm – Brad Meltzer’s novel “The President’s Shadow” (Grand Central; $28) will have you on the edge of your seat from the very first page.

  • Long-serving slave eventually reaches freedom

    By Mae Woods Bell
    Book Reviewer | July 4, 2015 - 5:00am

    This remarkable historical novel recounts how strong emotional ties were stretched too thin to hold together the lives of Julia Dent and her maid, Jule.

  • ‘Self-taught geniuses’ carry humanity skyward

    By Mae Woods Bell
    Book Reviewer | June 27, 2015 - 6:00am

    David McCullough tells the powerful tale of “The Wright Brothers” (Simon and Schuster; $30) whose vision, energy, hard work and persistence led to the realization of mankind’s long-held yearning to fly.

  • Berry leans on history to pen thriller

    By Mae Woods Bell
    Book Reviewer | June 19, 2015 - 4:13pm

    In a fast-paced, multilayered mystery, Cotton Malone, retired from an elite division within the U.S. Justice Department, returns to action in a caper that takes him from his bookstore in Copenhagen to Venice and from the Mediterranean to Adriatic seas.

  • American secures a place for Shakespeare

    By Mae Woods Bell
    Book Reviewer | June 13, 2015 - 5:00am

    Though acclaimed now, 16th-century playwright William Shakespeare only was rescued from modern obscurity at the start of the 20th century by the collection of his plays in folio form by an American bibliophile and devotee, Henry Clay Folger.

  • Whodunit returns with third protagonist

    By Mae Woods Bell
    Book Reviewer | June 5, 2015 - 5:56pm

    Anne Hillerman, the best-selling author of the Lt. Joe Leaphorn and Sgt.

  • Crisis interrupts newsman’s charmed life

    By Mae Woods Bell
    Book Reviewer | May 30, 2015 - 5:00am

    In a no-nonsense, deeply human memoir, famed journalist Tom Brokaw faces his own mortality in the wry and sobering chronicle of “A Lucky Life Interrupted” (Random House; $27).

  • Itinerant musical life suits Glass well

    By Mae Woods Bell
    Book Reviewer | May 22, 2015 - 5:57pm

    World-renowned composer of symphonies, sonatas, 23 operas and 30 movie soundtracks, Philip Glass can add compelling storyteller to his accomplishments with the release of his memoir, “Words Without Music” (Liveright; $29.95).