a few months ago

The secret mission to stop the Nazi atomic bomb

A Nazi atomic bomb? The fear that Werner Heisenberg, Otto Hahn, and other Nobel-winning German physicists would develop nuclear weapons for Adolf Hitler began to seize hold in the upper reaches of the American government when Albert Einstein’s letter to President Franklin Roosevelt arrived in the White House in August 1939. But it wasn’t long […]

Continue Reading...
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 […]

Continue Reading...
a few months ago

In Chocolate Wars, what’s gone wrong with business

One of the best ways I’ve found to explore the factors that influence the grand sweep of modern history is to examine the stories of individual companies, industries, and commodities. And among the books I’ve found that have helped the most are The World in a Grain: The Story of Sand and How It Transformed […]

Continue Reading...
a few months ago

How the Republican Party became Donald Trump

Amazon lists more than 1,000 books about Donald Trump. And only two US Presidents—George Washington and Abraham Lincoln—account for more (over 2,000 in each case). But Trump hasn’t even completed a single term in office, and there are lots more books to come. One of the latest, and in its way most surprising, is the […]

Continue Reading...
6 months ago

Understanding America’s polarization and how we got to now

Does the Red State-Blue State analysis of recent US elections make sense to you? Or pointing to the difference between Republicans and Democrats to explain election outcomes? Colin Woodward doesn’t think either one is useful in explaining how and why we vote as we do. Nor, in his opinion, are the boundaries that define our […]

Continue Reading...
6 months ago

The unconditional Japanese surrender in WWII

Three-quarters of a century after the end of World War II, FDR’s policy to demand unconditional surrender from Germany and Japan may seem simply logical. After all, in an era of total war, the only guarantee that either nation wouldn’t sufficiently recover to attack again was total Allied control over their system of government following […]

Continue Reading...
6 months ago

The famous dictionary that threw out the rules of grammar

My mother went ballistic when Webster’s Third New International Dictionary of the English Language appeared in 1961. She’d taught English for a time during the Depression. Then, there was a right way and a wrong way to express yourself. Rules were rules—and English teachers knew exactly what they were. But even back then the linguists […]

Continue Reading...
6 months ago

A scholar of Right-Wing politics dissects the Trump coalition

Here’s America’s leading scholar of Right-Wing politics with an up-to-the-minute analysis of the contending forces that have seized hold of the Republican Party. Because, as UC Berkeley’s Lawrence Rosenthal explains in Empire of Resentment, conservatism comes in many flavors, of which the following are the most prominent: Neoliberalism advocates letting free-market capitalism loose on the […]

Continue Reading...
7 months ago

British interference in American politics in WWII

In The Splendid and the Vile, a moving and revealing account of Winston Churchill’s leadership during the Blitz, Erik Larson makes much of the Prime Minister’s dogged campaign to persuade Franklin Roosevelt to drag the United States into the defense of Britain. Historians concur that Churchill’s influence on the President played a major role in […]

Continue Reading...
7 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 […]

Continue Reading...