a couple of days ago

20 top books about Africa, including both fiction and nonfiction

In the 19th century, as the nations of Europe rushed to grab ever-larger expanses of territory there, Africa was known as the Dark Continent. That label is still apt, but not for the same reason. Everywhere else—Europe, Asia, the Americas—understanding of Africa and Africans is limited, and far too often wildly distorted. It’s time to […]

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last month

Looking back at 2020: my favorite books of the year

It’s that time of year again, when the National Book Awards and the Booker Prize are announced and the Washington Post, the New York Times, and just about any other publication with literary pretensions releases their “best books of the year” lists. And I always review those lists, hunting for treasure I might have missed. […]

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last month

Female spies and saboteurs in World War II

For decades, the pivotal role many women played in codebreaking, espionage, and the Resistance in World War II went largely unappreciated. But with the advent of the twenty-first century, historians have begun bringing more of their extraordinary stories to light. In some cases, what they write reflects newly declassified files. But in others it’s merely […]

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a few months ago

The delightful Groucho Marx Mysteries

During the years 1998 to 2005, the popular cultural historian and author Ron Goulart (1933-) published a series of six Groucho Marx Mysteries featuring the legendary comedian in an unfamiliar role as a crime investigator. They’re set in the period immediately before the United States entered World War II—the heyday of the big Hollywood studios. […]

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