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BOOK REVIEW: ‘The Bridge Ladies: A Memoir’

Appealing is the word that kept recurring in my mind as I read literary agent and author Betsy Lerner’s memoir of getting to know her mother’s circle of contemporaries who have gathered each Monday yea these many long decades for lunch, bridge and much, much more.

BOOK REVIEW: ‘Outfoxed: An Andy Carpenter Mystery’

“Your dog helped him escape” is a tempting kickoff for a thriller, especially when a fox terrier called Boomer is then accused of involvement in seven stabbings. It is less credible when Boomer turns out to be one of the animals under the protection of a lawyer called Andy Carpenter who cares more about canines than people.

BOOK REVIEW: ‘A Just Cause: The Impeachment and Removal of Governor Rod Blagojevich’

In his foreword, former Illinois Gov. Jim Edgar writes: “Even in a state stained by corruption at every level of government,” where three governors have gone to jail, “none had been impeached until the General Assembly, like a team of surgeons removing a cancer, urgently but methodically excised Rod Blagojevich, the state’s fortieth governor.”

BOOK REVIEW: ‘Madison’s Hand: Revising the Constitutional Convention’

Pious politicians who anoint themselves as “strict constructionists” of the U.S. Constitution are akin to Christian fundamentalists who assert that the King James Version of the Bible was literally dictated by the Lord Almighty to 47 Church of England scholars during the Creator’s spare time between 1604 and 1611. One has to squint very hard to see any truth in divine inspiration for either document.

BOOK REVIEW: ‘Authors in Court: Scenes From the Theater of Copyright’

Mark Rose, research professor of English at the University of California, Santa Barbara, engagingly tells us that he is “a Shakespearean by trade, not a lawyer.” He then goes on to confess that “Nonetheless, I have some experience in legal matters, having served as an expert witness in copyright infringement cases for thirty-five years” and that he has lectured and written extensively about copyright and its history.

BOOK REVIEW: ‘Ghost Sniper: A Sniper Elite Novel’

With the take-down of Osama bin Laden, the most wanted man in the world, and other bold and brave military actions, the U.S. Navy SEALs and other special operations groups are respected and admired greatly. Although the elite special operators perform in a high state of operational security and secrecy, much has been written about them, as the public is very interested in these seemingly larger-than-life military men.

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BOOK REVIEW: 'This Brave New World: India, China and the United States'

On a crisp November morning last year, when Donald Trump's candidacy was little more than a cloud the size of a man's fist -- and the fist of a man with tiny hands, at that -- it occurred to me that if it ever did take off, a lot of its success would be due to his strongly protectionist stance on global trade.

BOOK REVIEW: 'Spanish-Israeli Relations, 1956-1992'

This is one of those books that not only sheds light on a too-much-ignored, perhaps even hidden, chapter in postwar international relations, but also on larger issues. The immediate question behind this intensively researched and analytical book is why it took nearly four decades after the establishment of the State of Israel for it to achieve full diplomatic relations with Spain -- in 1986.

BOOK REVIEW: 'Crisis of Character'

Despite its being ignored by the mainstream media, "Crisis of Character" is already a best-seller, driven by interviews and coverage in conservative outlets with the author relating his distressing experiences while serving in the Clinton White House as a U.S. Secret Service officer.

BOOK REVIEW: 'Mothering Sunday: A Romance'

Mothering Sunday is an ancient Church celebration that falls on the fourth Sunday of Lent. By that time in England, the daffodils are nodding and with a little luck the sun is shining, as they are in Graham Swift's latest novel, named after this holiday.

New book examines end of Soviet era -- and future

"Freedom had materialized out of thin air," writes Nobel Laureate Svetlana Alexievich of the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union. "Everyone was intoxicated by it, but no one had really been prepared . We'd be just like everyone else. We thought that this time, we'd finally get it right."

Dramatizing the grind of being Samuel Beckett

Living in Paris in the 1930s Samuel Beckett was not yet the author of 20th-century classics such as "Waiting for Godot" and "Krapp's Last Tape." He was assistant to James Joyce, whose wide learning he shared. But though he had published his novel "Murphy" (1938) as well as poems, short stories, and essays, he remained unknown beyond a narrow literary circle until the 1950s and '60s, when the success of his plays and later publications won him the 1969 Nobel Prize for Literature.

Sauciness aside, it's about the liver

If you want to show that movie stars today just aren't what they used to be in their glory days, a case in point is Olivia de Havilland, who turned 100 on July 1.

Bringing the last act of the Civil War to life

How ironic that Lt. Col, Ralph Peters is concluding his epic Civil War series just as the prospects for a new one have never been greater. How tragic that ignorance of our greatest conflict has never been more profound, American history watered down while our campuses mandate self-criticism sessions to bemoan "white privilege."

BOOK REVIEW: 'Foreign Agent'

Brad Thor always packs into his thrillers more fast-paced action and particularly clever twists and turns of riveting suspense than just about anyone else writing in this genre. He's remarkably adept at keeping the reader on edge, wondering what could possibly come next and where it's all going to lead. You can't seem to turn the pages fast enough as you anxiously anticipate what you might discover at the ending.