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We will continue to provide you with books that make you turn pages well past midnight, discover new worlds, and reunite with old friends. And we hope that you’ll continue to tell us how you’re doing, what you’re reading, and what books mean to you.

Peter Beinart's look at American intervention in WWI, Vietnam and Iraq tries to trace the history of how American foreign policy confidence and high-minded ambition crosses the line into hubris. Why do we overreach and how? How can we go forward in trying to create a safer world without having to learn the sobering lessons of flying too high and crashing back to earth?

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In 1960, one of America's greatest novelists sat in Fenway Park in Boston to witness the final at-bats of the man who wanted to be known as "the greatest hitter to play the game." When John Updike spent an afternoon watching Ted Williams' last ballgame, the result was an article that changed sports journalism, bringing it a literary respectability and prominence that it's never relinquished. It's at once a classic sports moment and a classic of American storytelling, worth reading not just to discover the outcome but to discover its prose.


What do a Matt Damon thriller and a non-fiction profile of Iraq's Coalition Provisional Authority have in common? Can the former really advance the ideas of the latter? What do both say about the priorities of counterinsurgency warfare and the occupation of a country? We take a look at how an entertaining movie managed to pay service to the provocative ideas of one of the best political histories to date of the American administration in Baghdad.

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Both Jon Ronson's book and the recent movie adaptation take us on a tour of a wacky, noble but doomed military initiative to use the power of the mind to create "Jedi warriors" who could provide non-violent alternative assistance to the American military. However, the film and book part ways, as the former becomes more of a caper and the latter delves into willful refusal to acknowledge the use of psychological torture. Read more...
Gore Vidal's novel presenting the memoirs of America's second most famous traitor created a stir when it was first published in 1973. As its self-centered main character seeks to defend his career, he likewise tries to bring his enemies down to his level—only his enemies are the men who founded America. Steeped with accurate historical detail, its revisionist approach and acid wit still packs a punch today. Read more...
Eugene Sledge's memoir has become a vital part of histories of island fighting in WWII, even forming the basis for a recent HBO miniseries. But the frankness of his prose (his acknowledgement of American atrocities, as well as Japanese), its elegant economy and his keen eye for the humanity and inhumanity surrounding him continue to make it a peerless and moving document. Read more...
Hans Fallada is probably the greatest German author you've never heard of. Stained by an unwanted association with the Nazi party, Fallada's reputation suffered in the west as all but one of his books were largely forgotten. But a new translation of his last work may help to restore his simple but beautiful novels to popular consciousness. Read more...

Agent Zigzag

Categories: history
The true story of a con artist, blackmailer, and thief who was sent home to England to sabotage a bomber factory for the Nazis, turned himself in to the authorities and wound up a double agent—distrusted in Britain, suspected in Berlin, and feeding false information that helped save allied lives. Read more...
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Like any institution, it's easy to take "This American Life" for granted. We just expect it to be the sort of radio we park the car and let finish before taking the key out of the ignition. Between a TV series and 400+ radio episodes, it's consistently produced masterpieces of mini-documentary that can fascinate the entire family again and again—some of which make for indispensable car-trip listening. Read more...
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Molly Crosby's look at yellow fever's devastation of a vibrant 19th century Memphis and later the men who discovered how the disease spread takes us along for a portrait of a doomed epoch, an epidemiological whodunnit and a philosophical debate about medical experimentation. To varying degrees of success, it offers multiple books in one. Read more...
About Unabashedly Bookish: The BN Community Blog
Unabashedly Bookish features new articles every day from the Book Clubs staff, guest authors, and friends on hot topics in the world of books, language, writing, and publishing. From trends in the publishing business to updates on genre fiction fan communities, from fun lessons on grammar to reflections on literature in our personal lives, this blog is the best source for your daily dose of all things bookish.