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Ornery H.L. Mencken loved baseball

As baseball season thunders down upon us — Go Nats! — let us pause to give loud huzzahs to the Library of America and the Washington writer Marion Elizabeth Rodgers, first for defying self-appointed literary censors, and also for revealing the hidden love of the national pastime by none other than Baltimore’s famed scourge of bunkum, H.L. Mencken.

‘A call to action for the 46 states that know better’

William Bennett, who served as secretary of education under Ronald Reagan and director of national drug control policy (or drug czar) under George H.W. Bush, has long been known for his strong and clear articulation of conservative principles in a number of best-selling books, among them “The Book of Virtues.”

Vive la difference

Like family traits, national characteristics may evolve or dilute over the generations, but they never really go away. As with family DNA, national DNA is reinforced by attitudes, traditions and surroundings — nature working hand in hand with nurture. This is especially true in countries with long-standing national and linguistic unity and a strong sense of cultural identity.

Finding a killer driven by ‘nuclear rage’

The investigating team of Alex Delaware and Milo Sturgis is coping with unsolved “cold cases” and an ice-cold killer in this crafty and cleverly plotted mystery.

Celebrating family love and national pride

For those of us who thrilled to the movie made of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s last Broadway collaboration, “The Sound of Music,” it is hard to believe that a half-century has passed since it claimed its unique place in American film.

The politics that surrounded the sinking of the Lusitania

A lawyer friend of mine routinely asks a question when preparing the defense of white-collar clients accused of high-dollar crimes: “What were you thinking?” The question comes to mind often when reading Erik Larson’s harrowing and intriguing resurrection of the infamous but misremembered sinking of the British liner Lusitania by a German submarine, the 1915 catastrophe that did not trigger America’s entry into World War I.

How Ronald Reagan countered a nuclear threat

Life and professional partners, the Andersons completed this, their last book together, not long before Martin passed away. It is a model of careful research and clear writing and a tribute to a man, Ronald Reagan, whose vision of a world without nuclear weapons and his determination to bring it about led to the end of the Cold War.

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Collaborating with Billy Wilder

Charles Brackett was the writing partner of legendary Hollywood movie director Billy Wilder. Their productive, brilliant and sometimes combative collaboration during a 14-year period produced such masterpieces as the "Lost Weekend" (1945) and "Sunset Blvd" (1950) — iconic and award-winning movies of Hollywood's Golden Age.

Abraham Lincoln: A man of his words

Most presidents are defined by what happened while they were in office and what others write about them afterward. Few paint enduring self-portraits in their own words. In the 20th century, only Franklin Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan embedded themselves in history largely through their living words and images — FDR via radio and film, Reagan using television as well

Revisiting their Waterloo

As Napoleon Bonaparte's troops assembled for battle outside the Belgian village of Waterloo in June 1815, the deposed French emperor spoke scornfully of the opposing British commander and his soldiers: "I tell you that [the Duke of] Wellington is a bad general and the English are bad troops. The whole affair will be no more serious than swallowing one's breakfast!"

Understanding the heir to the throne

Time magazine journalist Catherine Mayer is an experienced observer and chronicler of Britain's royal family. In the course of several cover stories on Queen Elizabeth II and her family, she has traveled with and — to the extent that any journalist can — interacted with them. But for this book, she had to walk a tightrope in order to gain sufficient access to the enigmatic and unpredictable heir to the throne, while still maintaining her objectivity and, consequently, her all-important credibility

When the factory jobs went to Mexico

As children, we rarely called it "Maytag." It was simply known as "The Factory." Back in the 1970s, my buddy Shawn would point a finger at the giant refrigerator plant on the edge of Galesburg, Ill., and say, "My dad works there." It was a point of pride in our small town. Those were good jobs.

Hlynsky Book jacket

Revisiting the privations of the Soviet world

This is one of those books which affirm the occasional power of images over even the most thoughtful words. The 176 photographs taken between 1986 and 1990 in the Soviet Bloc of Eastern Europe by David Hlynsky, an American-born Canadian photographer, speak so loudly and clearly here that his explanatory introduction and two analytical essays by academics seem, despite their undoubted aptness, superfluous.

Dangerous tours in Botswana

The terror of a massacre on safari in Botswana is linked to the gruesome killing of a Boston taxidermist in "Die Again," a fast-paced thriller.

How bad housing policies led to the financial crisis

Peter Wallison's important, engaging and alarming "Hidden in Plain Sight" is the definitive work on the financial crisis and a must-read for policymakers, the commentariat and citizens wanting to pierce the populist anti-Wall-Street, anti-bank fog.

From the book jacket

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.