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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.

BOOK REVIEW: ‘The Notorious John Morrissey’

It is not uncommon even in these more evolved times for those commenting on and even engaging in what passes for the rough and tumble of today’s political arena to talk about “taking the gloves off.” But this all but forgotten figure in American history, Rep. John Morrissey, New York Democrat, actually was a bare-knuckle boxer of considerable renown — the American champion no less.

BOOK REVIEW: ‘Junkyards, Gearheads, and Rust: Salvaging the Automotive Past’

This unexpectedly interesting book is all about cars — after they die and go to automotive purgatory to await the crusher. The author, an assistant professor of History at Auburn, who confesses to a lifelong passion for both cars and junkyards, is a man who never met a junkyard he didn’t like.

BOOK REVIEW: ‘The Little Red Chairs’

Someone once said whether history remembers you as a rebel or a freedom fighter depends on whether you lose or win. Whether the same applies to a dictator is open to question. Edna O’Brien seems to be playing with these ideas in her new, complex novel, “The Little Red Chairs.”

BOOK REVIEW: ‘The Castaway’s War: One Man’s Battle Against Imperial Japan’

Of all the combat veterans I have encountered in almost half a century of writing, not a single person has claimed the accolade “hero,” regardless of the number of ribbons he wears. I recall vividly the reaction of a much-decorated veteran of the Korean War when I suggested his actions earned him such a designation.

Related Articles

BOOK REVIEW: 'The Unquiet Frontier: Rising Rivals, Vulnerable Allies, and the Crisis of American Pow

What a difference 27 years makes. In 1989, Francis Fukuyama published his now-famous article in The National Interest -- a thoughtful publication to which I am proud to be a contributing editor -- proclaiming "The end of history": "What we may be witnessing is not just the end of the Cold War, or the passing of a particular period of post-war history, but the end of history as such: that is, the end point of humanity's ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government."

BOOK REVIEW: 'The Envoy: From Kabul to the White House, My Journey Through a Turbulent World'

In 2003 President Bush asked Zalmay Khalilzad, a high-ranking National Security Council official, to see him. To Mr. Khalilzad's surprise, he asked him if he would be willing to go to Afghanistan as the next ambassador. Caught off-guard, Mr. Khalilzad responded, "Well, Mr. President, I actually left Afghanistan to live here. Why do you want to send me back?"

BOOK REVIEW: 'History's People: Personalities and the Past'

Margaret MacMillan, professor of history at the University of Toronto and Oxford University, is the author of "The War That Ended Peace: The Road to 1914," "Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World" and "Nixon and Mao: The Week That Changed The World," all international bestsellers, all written in elegant, lucid prose, with fine balanced portraits of the men and women involved in shaping the history of their times -- and often our own.

BOOK REVIEW: 'In Other Words'

It's not unknown for a novelist -- even an acclaimed novelist -- to write in a foreign language. Joseph Conrad and Vladimir Nabokov wrote in English though their first languages were Polish and Russian respectively. Irishman Samuel Beckett switched from English to French. Now Jhumpa Lahiri, a prize-winning author of short stories and novels in English, has decided to follow suit, abandoning English in favor of Italian.

BOOK REVIEW: 'Narconomics: How to Run a Drug Cartel'

''Narconomics" is the book that Sean Penn wanted to write. Tom Wainwright may not have interviewed Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, but he did talk to drug kingpins every bit as ruthless and intimidating in writing this book. Along the way, Mr. Wainwright also talked to cops, hitmen, national presidents and addicts.

BOOK REVIEW: 'Disraeli: The Novel Politician'

When Benjamin Disraeli was 12 years old, his family converted from Judaism to Christianity. Yet the Christian convert who became the United Kingdom's first (and, to date, only) prime minister with a Jewish lineage never truly abandoned his roots.

BOOK REVIEW: 'The Rainbow Comes and Goes: A Mother and Son on Life, Love, and Loss

This is a book like no other I have ever read: a dialogue between mother and son, both public figures in their different ways, who have chosen to share an intensely private attempt to get to know one another before it is too late. After all, perennially youthful and energetic though she is, Gloria Vanderbilt is 92 years old and Anderson Cooper, although still under 50, is the author of "Dispatches from the Edge."

BOOK REVIEW: 'Heydey: The 1850s and the Dawn of the Global Age'

Two long afternoon immersions in Ben Wilson's book left me feeling as if I had been on a high-speed roller coaster, rocketing from the gold fields of Australia and California to the financial houses of London, battlefields in Central America and the steppes of the Caucasus and telegraph offices sprinkled over the continent.

BOOK REVIEW: 'Depraved Heart'

He is a vintage teddy bear named Mr. Pickle and he has the distinction of being the only cheerful note in a book which is a sea of melodrama.

BOOK REVIEW: 'Before the Wind'

The hearts of sailing enthusiasts will melt as they read of "the spangled bliss" of a sunset cruise in the third line of "Before the Wind." A few lines later they will be ruefully amused but nodding their heads in agreement with the thought that "Sailboats attract the loons and geniuses ... the romantics whose boats represent some outlaw image of themselves."

BOOK REVIEW: 'Dead Presidents'

"My fascination with presidents began in elementary school," New Hampshire National Public Radio host Brady Carlson tells readers at the beginning of his informative and eminently engaging account of how America's chief executives died -- and what happened to them then.

BOOK REVIEW: 'Dinomania: The Lost Art of Winsor McCay'

There's an age-old thought experiment which goes like this: "If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" Some people have created their own variations of this philosophical question, and here's mine: "If a cartoonist draws a comic strip that was never published, did it ever exist in print?"

BOOK REVIEW: 'The Road to Little Dribbling: More Notes from a Small Island'

He's Alexis de Tocqueville in reverse. Almost two centuries after the Frenchman's classic text "On Democracy in America" explained its political traditions and cultural oddities to a European audience, Bill Bryson has served up another affectionate study of British eccentricity to tickle the sides of American readers.

BOOK REVIEW: 'Fates and Furies'

Lancelot (nicknamed Lotto) and Mathilde (born Aurelie) married two weeks after they met at the end of their college years. He was "tall, vivid, a light flickered in him that caught the eye and held it." She was "fair and sharp ... quiet and watchful." Lauren Groff's "Fates and Furies" is the story of their passionate marriage, a tale told in two parts: "Fates" is Lotto's story; "Furies" is Mathilde's, although they are not based on the same facts.

BOOK REVIEW: 'The Love of Strangers: What Six Muslim Students Learned in Jane Austen's London'

Before considering the many merits of Nile Green's diligently researched and elegantly written tale of five Persian students who arrived in London in 1815 to acquire knowledge of the "new sciences" that had brought the industrial revolution to "Inglistan," a word of warning: Despite its title, this book has little if anything to do with Jane Austen.