a couple of weeks ago

The four men who led the US Navy in WWII

They were children of the Victorian Era. Annapolis graduates around the turn of the twentieth century. Junior officers in World War I, captains by 1927. They gained their first admiral’s stars by the 1930s, and all four were near or past retirement age when war broke out. Yet they rose to the pinnacle of leadership […]

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3 weeks ago

Four young Chinese experience WWII and Revolution

When future historians look back at the most consequential events of the century just past, it seems likely they’ll place four or five episodes at the top of their lists. The Russian and Chinese Revolutions, of course. The thirty-year war that encompassed the two conflicts we now call the First and Second World Wars. And […]

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last month

The last living former slave tells his story

From 1927 to 1931, cultural anthropologist and folklorist Zora Neale Hurston interviewed the last living former slave in the United States and prepared an account of his life for publication. The manuscript never found a taker until 2018, when acclaimed novelist Alice Walker arranged for it to be brought into the light of day. We’re […]

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a few months ago

The extraordinary Soviet spy who gave Stalin the bomb

Ben MacIntyre is one of the most prolific producers of nonfiction books about espionage in the English language. Of the thirteen books he’s written to date, nearly all are about spies, saboteurs, and partisans, and five of those books have been made into documentaries by the BBC. In his latest venture, MacIntyre tells the tale […]

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a few months ago

A female WWII spy led thousands against the Nazis

Recent years have seen a flood of new books belatedly highlighting the role of women in espionage in World War II. Despite rampant sexism and misogyny, women did indeed fill vital roles as spies and analysts in intelligence-gathering as well as partisan activities behind enemy lines. And few women played as prominent a part as […]

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7 months ago

Jerry Brown: politician, would-be monk, “man of tomorrow?”

For nearly half a century, Jerry Brown has confounded the people of California with the contradictions rooted so deeply in his personality. We’ve long known that it would be simplistic to pigeonhole him as either liberal or conservative. But the inconsistencies are more profound than that. Throughout his many years in public office, he felt […]

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8 months ago

A critical but admiring biography of Nancy Pelosi

She has one of the most recognizable names in America. Yet far too few Americans have more than the most trivial understanding of who she is and where she comes from. And that ignorance is compounded by a relentless, years-long smear campaign by the Right Wing—a campaign that has only intensified since the 2018 Congressional […]

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last year

The California Governor who was a notorious thief

He founded Stanford University to honor his fifteen-year-old son who died of typhoid fever — and left the university near bankruptcy when he died, without an endowment. He was elected as California’s eighth Governor when his business partners effectively bought the job for him after he had lost four previous election campaigns by embarrassing margins. […]

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