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A war started by ‘carnivorous lemmings’

Today’s visitors to the older sections of Charleston, S.C., find themselves in an enchanting time warp. The beguiling facade of the antebellum South — the mannerly charm, the tastefully understated elegance, even the dignified courtesy of the mostly black service personnel — all reflect the surface allure of an elegant way of life that has mostly gone with the wind. Happily, what little remains now is supported by the tourist trade rather than by slave labor.

Every president must have ‘his own SOB’

Chris Whipple, a documentary filmmaker and award-winning TV producer, is a talented journalist who has interviewed all 17 living chiefs of staff as well as numerous people who served with them. His prose is clear, crisp and often evocative, and for the most part his observations ring true as he tracks the development of the office.

A spy in the right place at the right moment

Alexsi is a creation of and for the world of Joseph Stalin at its most terrifying. A practiced thief at 16 years old, he is captured by the communist NKVD, the law enforcement agency of the Soviet Union, and becomes a secret agent who is also a trained killer.

The Gipper in transition

When we think of Ronald Reagan, it usually involves either his two successful terms in the Governor’s Mansion of California or the White House. What we rarely consider is the period when this great modern conservative figure was trapped in the political wilderness — with a future that was far from certain.

A political porcupine

Good biography should not just bring the subject individual into clearer focus, it also should inform us about how that life has something to tell us about current events. This meticulously annotated selection from the diaries of our sixth president reads like the banner headlines of today’s news reports of political intrigue, raw ambitions and the same existential crisis that divides our nation today.

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