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How animal rights activists doomed ‘Free Willy’

The film “Free Willy” captured the imagination of viewers in 1993 with a story detailing a young boy’s desire to free a killer whale named “Willy” from captivity in an amusement park. At the end of the film, Willy swims off to freedom. But the inspirational film bears little resemblance to reality, according to Mark Simmons, author of “Killing Keiko: The True Story of Free Willy’s Return to the Wild.”

Revisiting Ronald Reagan’s political development

Tom Reed was trained as an engineer and has an engineer’s orderly mind. Where politics is concerned, it led him to concentrate on organization. In turn, this led to an important role in Ronald Reagan’s first electoral victory, the governorship of California in 1966.

Remembering a Congress that worked more than it waltzed

The Congress of Vienna, begun in September 1814 and concluded in June 1815, was unique, an unprecedented Pan-European conference that laid the foundations for the post-Napoleonic age. It was also the first superpower summit.

When the Nazis failed to cross the channel

The Nazi invasion of England — code-named “Operation Sea Lion” — so widely anticipated in the wake of the precipitate fall of France in June 1940 is one of the great non-happenings of history. This absorbing, detailed book by British journalist and historian Leo McKinstry shows that it might indeed have happened and explains the various reasons why it did not.

The wanting last of Bellow

For any writer, having his oeuvre collected in volumes by Library of America is in itself an accolade, a sign of his place in the literature of his nation. Saul Bellow (1915-2005) was not short on acknowledgments of his stature as a writer, winning just about every literary prize going, including the Nobel in 1976.

Rube Goldberg, M.D.

A folk song inspired by Philip Klein’s latest book might be called “Shall We Overturn?” Just imagine a Bizarro Pete Seeger croaking out, “Shall we overtuuurn? Shall we overtuuuurn? Shall we overturn Obamacare some day?”

Related Articles

A downfall advanced by bad jewelry

It was a 2,800 carat diamond necklace that many people thought was ugly and it may be that Queen Marie Antoinette never either wore it or saw it, but it made a bitterly ironic contribution to the collapse of her world and her consequent death.

Reliving the life of a Seneca warrior

Jane Whitefield is unique in the annals of detective fiction. She is a throwback to a tribal world, still loyal to the beliefs of the Seneca Indians and still adhering to the call of a lost era. Thomas Perry has once again resurrected a remarkable character who seems imbued with a strange immortality and an unusual morality, and he is to be congratulated.

FILE - This is a Friday, Oct. 17, 2014 file photo of Russian President Vladimir Putin and French President Francois Hollande, right, during a meeting on the sidelines of the  ASEM summit of European and Asian leaders in Milan, northern Italy. EU sanctions against Russia over the crisis in Ukraine are cutting both ways and pinching some big European companies. But economic relief isn't likely any time soon, diplomats and analysts say: EU rules make the sanctions tough to overturn.  France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine are trying to set up talks in Astana, Kazakhstan, toward easing the tensions behind sanctions that have hit Russia's economy, sent the ruble sinking and affected corporate Europe _ including banks, oil companies, machinery makers and food giants.    (AP Photo/Daniel Dal Zennaro, Pool, File)

The curious case of Vlad the Embezzler

Beware of historians bearing analogies. If every two-bit dictator whom post-World War II pundits and scholars have compared to Hitler or Stalin packed even a tenth of the wallop of the originals, we would all have been engulfed in World War III years ago. The latest dictator to come in for the Hitler-Stalin treatment is that indubitably bad, more than a little power-mad master of the Kremlin, Vladimir Putin.

How the United States became a superpower

"He came not to take sides but to make peace," Mr. Tooze writes. "The first dramatic assertion of American leadership in the twentieth century was not directed toward ensuring that the 'right' side won, but that no one did. ... That meant that the war could have only one outcome: 'peace without victory.'"

What the mad king endured

In this massively detailed royal biography it seems unfortunate and even unlikely that it takes more than 300 pages to reach the topic of porphyria, the strange disease that made England's George III known as "the mad king" and came close to wrecking his monarchy.

BOOK REVIEW: 'Michelangelo: Complete Works'

Last year marked the 450th anniversary of the death of one of the world's greatest artists, Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni. To commemorate this important anniversary, Taschen has reissued Frank Zollner's classic 2007 book, "Michelangelo: Complete Works."

BOOK REVIEW: 'The Job'

There is something refreshing about a book that has no pretensions to either shock you or improve your mind but simply to devote itself to entertainment.

BOOK REVIEW: 'Ataturk in the Nazi Imagination'

Quite understandably, given their dire effect upon mankind, there have been countless studies of Nazism and its fuehrer Adolf Hitler, delving into all aspects of their nature. Worthy though so many of these are, perhaps even necessary, they tend to make one's eyes glaze over at yet another book on the topic. So it is a surprise as well as a real pleasure to come across this insightful, instructive work, a genuinely original contribution to Nazi historiography.

BOOK REVIEW: 'America in Retreat: The New Isolationism and the Coming Global Disorder'

When one considers the breathtaking gains in political stability and economic growth during the 50 years it took to win the Cold War — gains charted, nurtured and achieved under the leadership of the United States — it's hard to take it in. The establishment of democracy in Japan, South Korea, Poland, Taiwan, the Baltic states and most of Latin America; peace between Israel and Egypt; Germany and Japan eschewing militarism for pacifism; and dramatic gains in global gross domestic product. All Americans should be proud of this record and carry a sense of self-confidence toward our qualifications, the benefits and the necessity of our continuing to carry forward this legacy of active leadership in world affairs, "a world in which the economic, diplomatic, and military might of the United States provides the global buffer between civilization and barbarism," in the words of Bret Stephens in his superb book "America in Retreat."

BOOK REVIEW: 'The Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia, 1772-1832'

Too many academic histories these days are marred by narrow topic focus, turgid writing, exhaustive (and exhausting) referencing and simply poor storytelling. And they are too often hideously expensive. This book, however, is a gem of such resonant historiography that you will find yourself begrudging neither its length nor its price. It's that good.

BOOK REVIEW: 'The Complete Little Nemo'

Winsor McCay is widely regarded as one of America's greatest cartoonists. His early 20th century comic strips ("Little Sammy Sneeze," "Dream of the Rarebit Fiend") and animated shorts ("Gertie the Dinosaur," "The Sinking of the Lusitania") are still among the most groundbreaking examples of both genres.

BOOK REVIEW: 'London: A Literary Anthology'

The ever-sagacious Samuel Johnson famously remarked that those who were tired of London were tired of life. There's an awful lot of life packed into the sampling of literary reflections of that city, which the editors of the British Library — that great depository of English manuscripts — have assembled in these pages. Whether a writer was a native of London, a visitor or one who adopted it as his hometown, it had an enormous effect. For so many writers over the centuries, London offered fodder for their work, whether as inspiration for all manner of subject matters and characters or merely as background. Love it as William Wordsworth did — "Earth has not anything to show more fair" — or loathe it as American poet Amy Lowell did — "The city is squalid and sinister an alien city" — London exerted an almost gravitational pull, a compulsion to write about it.