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BOOK REVIEW: ‘Church of Spies: The Pope’s War Against Hitler’

One of the lingering controversies of World War II concerns the role of the Roman Catholic Church, and whether its leadership — specifically, Pope Pius XII — provided meaningful opposition to the Nazi regime. Jewish groups have been especially vocal in criticisms of Pius for his supposed “silence” about the Holocaust.

BOOK REVIEW: ‘Clementine: The Life of Mrs. Winston Churchill’

If all those books on the many aspects of Winston Churchill have definitely demonstrated the contradictory nature of the man and his career, this probing, well-researched and wise biography of his wife proves that she was a veritable mass of contradictions. From her aristocratic but impoverished background to her role as wife, mother and public figure, seemingly everything about her defies easy categorization.

BOOK REVIEW: ‘Dark Corners’

Psychological mysteries are a Ruth Rendell specialty, and her final book is no exception. It is an exploration of an ostensibly average group of people and how they become involved in a murder over failure to pay rent. The decline and fall of Carl Martin might be considered a warning about what a really nasty tenant can do to a landlord.

BOOK REVIEW: ‘The Main That Got Away: The Life and Songs of Harold Arlen’

Perhaps it is because songs are called by the name their lyricist has given them that their composers sometimes seem to be less-known than the wordsmiths. Unless, of course, when they have been part of an indelible duo that has somehow entered the lexicon of musicals, like Rodgers and Hart, or Kern and Hammerstein, or after Kern and Hart dropped off, that rare successful remarriage Rodgers and Hammerstein.

BOOK REVIEW: ‘American Dreams: Restoring Economic Opportunity for Everyone’

Political polls, although increasingly iffy and unreliable, have become a growth industry, with the national media, caught up in a relentless wave of cutbacks and downsizing, routinely using them as primary sources for stories — a practice no editor would have countenanced not too many years ago.

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BOOK REVIEW: 'My Kitchen Year'

When Conde Nast unexpectedly closed Gourmet magazine, a popular favorite with home cooks for 69 years, its 10-year editor, Ruth Reichl, like the rest of the staff, was stunned. She was devastated, feeling responsible for the closure as it happened under her tenure, and unsure as to where she could turn next. The future looked bleak: A new job for a sixty-something food writer, editor and cook is not easy to find.

BOOK REVIEW: 'Keeping an Eye Open: Essays on Art'

Novelists and painters are often fellow travelers and best buddies. Charles Dickens was friends with Daniel Maclise and W.P. Frith, who painted iconic portraits of the author and several of his characters. In London Oscar Wilde was a frequent guest at the famous breakfasts hosted by James McNeill Whistler. In Aix-en-Provence Zola and Cezanne were inseparable high-school pals.

BOOK REVIEW: 'Eyes: Novellas and Stories'

A book called "Eyes: Novellas and Stories" inevitably focuses attention on vision. Here it's on the vision of author William H. Gass, who scrutinizes his materials so long that they shift their shapes -- a process he renders in language of balletic precision.

BOOK REVIEW: 'The Christmas Truce: Myth, Memory and the First World War'

"History has a double role: to destroy the illusions of the past and to create out of the debris a more extended, a more rational, a more detached sense of human destiny," the British historian Lady Elizabeth Longford wrote in her biography of the Duke of Wellington.

BOOK REVIEW: 'Hitler at Home'

How did Adolf Hitler go from a figure of fun often likened to Charlie Chaplin's tramp to the leader so beloved by the bulk of Germany's population, no matter what they claimed in this regard after he had brought unheard-of mayhem, destruction and shame on them and their nation?

BOOK REVIEW: 'People!: A Memoir'

Readers who remember Mel Brooks' hilarious routines as the Two Thousand Year Old Man -- the quintessential old Jewish codger who has seen it all, knows it all, and is going to tell you all about it -- will have no trouble enjoying "People!," veteran journalist Sol Sanders' rambling, far-reaching and often moving memoir.

BOOK REVIEW: 'Trigger Mortis'

It is most difficult to resist a book called "Trigger Mortis" and you shouldn't. Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond, surely would have been delighted by this confection that recreates the hilariously bizarre and bloody times of the immortal Agent OO7, not to mention Pussy Galore.

BOOK REVIEW: 'The Charlie Chaplin Archives'

Many of Charlie Chaplin's films, including "The Kid" (1921), "The Gold Rush" (1925), "Modern Times" (1936), "The Great Dictator" (1940) and "Limelight" (1952), are regarded as masterpieces. He co-founded the distribution company United Artists with D.W. Griffith, Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks.