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How China pursues global domination

Reading “The Hundred-Year Marathon” was a bittersweet experience. Sweet because this one-time “panda hugger” (as Michael Pillsbury describes himself) has now joined ranks with those of us who have long seen China as bent upon global domination. Bitter because China’s secret strategy to replace America as the sole superpower is well on the way to success.

Founding fixer

Washington author David Stewart has rapidly built a local fan base with his award-winning biographies of such diverse historical characters as Andrew Johnson and Aaron Burr.

When personal disaster strikes

The tale Jill Ciment tells in “Act of God” is not funny. It’s about a fungus infestation that leaves several families homeless and impoverished, and at least one person dead. Nonetheless, this novel breezes along, fizzing with wit as it sails toward a comic ending that leaves the surviving characters rich with possibilities.

Portrait of a corrupt state

Poor Rod Blagojevich. He wanted so badly to be successfully corrupt, but was just too dumb to swing it.

The Wizard of Oz meets King Lear

When it comes to presidents, the brightest are not necessarily the best. There are at least three other qualities that matter as much or more: temperament, judgment and character. The presidential greatness of men like Washington, Lincoln, FDR and Ronald Reagan was due at least as much to these qualities as it was to raw intellect.

The great prime minister’s surprising marriage

Benjamin and Mary Anne Disraeli were the 19th century’s premier odd couple. He was born in London into an intellectual and literary Jewish household, she in Devon, the daughter of a sailor.

When crime and real estate converge

This is murder most droll. For the benefit of a reader planning to buy or sell his home, it offers invaluable advice about how much information a real estate agent not only can gather, but use for his own purposes.

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From the book jacket

The women, widows and bastards passed over

Although the barony held by the 7th Lord Sackville, author of this unusual family history, written under his plain first and last name, dates only from the 19th century, his clan have held grander titles and positions since Tudor times and beyond.

How the Spanish Civil War shaped history

Richard Rhodes has a way of taking on big topics and famous incidents and locales from Hiroshima to Hollywood and writing about them in prose that is both accessible and memorable.

Spies, operatives and cyberspace

Robin Hood used bows and arrows to right what he saw as wrongs. Peregrine Montresor, the protagonist in "Lazarus Man," uses cyberspace.

Thinking of the postwar world while still in combat

That great Victorian sage Thomas Carlyle, a master coiner of apt phrases, famously dubbed economics the dismal science, and there has been no shortage of people agreeing with him ever since. Fortunately for readers of this book about the conference held to determine postwar financial structure and the institutions necessary to regulate it, there is nothing dismal or dull or dreary about its author's account of what went on in those three summer weeks in 1944 in the foothills of New Hampshire's White Mountains. With no false modesty, he calls it "a gripping tale," and he is right on target.

Where ancient religions have disappeared

With the continuing destabilization of the Middle East and the rise of the Islamic State group, non-Muslim populations have undergone severe persecution. So much so, that emigration has caused ancient religions, some germane to biblical studies and some older than Christianity and Islam to disappear from the landscape.

A battle cry for smaller government

One thing is abundantly clear in American politics today: Voters dislike Washington. And with good reason, as so many of the challenges facing our country today come out of the inability of most politicians in our nation's capital to confront those major problems. So what should we do?

Imagining F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Hollywood life

The Gilded Age. "The Great Gatsby" exemplified the privileged life style of the 1920s Jazz Age. F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald were the toast of the literary world as well as of the demi-monde. "Nothing was impossible — everything was just beginning" wrote Fitzgerald, as quoted by Stewart O'Nan in his engrossing new novel, "West of Sunset," about the last years of Fitzgerald's life, years that proved that indeed, "[t]here are no second acts in American lives."

Redneck ethnic cleansing recalled

Few things vanish from public memory more quickly than government atrocities. When I was growing up on a mountainside across from the Shenandoah National Park in the 1960s, no one spoke of the injustices committed against the mountaineers brutally expelled from their homes in the 1930s to create that park. Instead, all that mattered in Front Royal, Virginia, my nearby hometown and the northern entrance of the park, was that the tourists the park attracted were good for local business.

When mining coal amounted to vandalism

As anyone who has read Catherine Bailey's "The Secret Rooms" knows, there is nothing that excites her as much as an aristocratic family graced with a beautiful mansion and bedeviled by a secret.