A witty, warm and engaging book about Russians and the food obsessions of Soviet life; it is also a culinary history of the Russian Revolution and its consequences. In the great tradition of Russian memoirs, it presents a view of the country's past and culture in the mode of “laughter through tears.” A delicious read complete with recipes.
In The Last of the Wine, the long Peloponnesian War against Sparta underpins a story centering on the life of Athens and the circle of young men around Socrates. The novel focuses on the coming to manhood of its narrator, a young Athenian nobleman named Alexias, and of Lysis, the man who becomes the love of Alexias' life. The novel's chief concern is the sort of Greek love that inspired Plato's great dialogues, Symposium and Phaedrus. Read more »
Though Russia figures in this book, the subtitle best describes the work: A Novel About Secrets, Betrayal, and the Friend Who Got Away. Set in Cold War America and post-Soviet Russia, it is a mystery at the heart of which lies the story of the affection between girls and young women, love and loss. Inspired by the media sensation surrounding the letter of an American girl, Samantha Smith, to Yuri Andropov, the book has intrigue, plot twists, and ambiguity.
In The Faith Instinct, Wade investigates humanity’s transforming propensity for religion, showing how our innate piety has adapted to changing needs and conditions. Beginning as hunter-gatherers, humans were able to experience independent and personal access to the divine.Read more »
The Master and Margarita is woven around a visit by the devil to the fervently atheistic Soviet Union. In part, it is angled against a suffocatingly bureaucratic social order. The novel alternates between two settings. The first is 1930s Moscow, and the second setting is the Jerusalem of Pontius Pilate.Read more »
In The Flamethrowers, Kushner skillfully navigates huge swaths of politics and history, intimately intersecting the vivid lives of her characters with the external reality in which they move.Read more »
The Arab Revolt against the Turks in World War I was, in the words of T.E. Lawrence, “a sideshow of a sideshow” – a conflict shaped by a small handful of adventurers far removed from the corridors of power. At the center of it all was Lawrence himself. In early 1914 he was an archaeologist excavating ruins in Syria; by 1917 he was riding into legend at the head of an Arab army while fighting a rearguard action against his own government’s imperial ambitions. Read more »
Don DeLillo presents a novel about words and images, novelists and terrorists, the arch-individualist and the mass mind. The novel centers on Bill Gray, a famous reclusive writer who abandons the novel he has been writing for many years and enters a world of political violence, Semtex explosives and hostages locked in basement rooms. Mao II is Don DeLillo's 10th novel. It won the PEN/Faulkner Award in 1992.
Thought by many to be the best thriller novel of 2012, this book was a wildly successful tale and considered by culture writer Dave Itzkoff to be the biggest literary phenomenon of 2012, excluding the Fifty Shades of Grey series. A thrilling crime novel, it is also a story of the unknown that goes on behind closed doors. This book is a story filled with intrigue and suspense, painting a portrait of a marriage that delves deep into the true nature of the person on the other side of the bed. Read more »
Barbara Tuchman's The Guns of August is a compelling book to discuss during this 100th anniversary of the inception of World War I. The first world war was the signal event of the modern era: without it, no Hitler, no Holocaust, no World War II, no Bolshevik Revolution, no Cold War (including the Korean and Vietnam Wars), and no nuclear weapons. The book discussion will focus on the first 158 pages. Anyone not interested in the minutiae of military history after hostilities opened can stop at page 158, which completes Ms. Read more »