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A Russian dictator and the nuclear war he devises

Across the top of the cover of "Red War" it reads: "#1 New York Times Bestselling Author of 'American Assassin'." Below this in huge letters is the name Vince Flynn. But the great thriller writer Vince Flynn died five years ago.

The journalists' haunt that drew its share of spies

Having spent a lifetime in and around journalism, I can attest to the profession's overlap with espionage. Practitioners in both fields are devoted to acquiring information, by one means or another.

The insufferable in pursuit of the insolvent

A chapter or so into Anne de Courcy's amusing, breezily readable "The Husband Hunters" I was reminded of Oscar Wilde's throwaway line about English fox hunters: "the unspeakable in pursuit of the uneatable."

Navigating educational realities and constitutional demands

Under the 14th Amendment, the fundamental protections of the Bill of Rights are extended to state and local action, so that even the smallest hamlet is inhibited from curbing freedom of speech or freedom of religion or punishing someone without a fair trial. But there's an asterisk to that statement: It doesn't necessarily apply to school boards. As University of Chicago law professor Justin Driver writes in "The Schoolhouse Gate": "Typically, the public school setting affords students diminished constitutional protections as compared with other locales."

A journey through an original literary mind

Helen DeWitt is a writer with an extraordinary breadth of knowledge, a quirky wit, freewheeling style and apparent expertise in fields as diverse as the classics, philosophy, mathematics, art and music. Her recently published book of 13 short stories, "Some Trick," covers these fields and others. It is a delicious combination of Ionesco's absurd, Nabokov's erudite wit and Waugh's satire, all with an underlying note of anguish. She is both very funny and quite serious.

'A reporter in the midst of history'

They are known as wiremen and it is a compliment in the newspaper business now battered by inhuman electronics. What it means is that they are reporters who can and will do anything because they are not only good at it, they love it.

Recognizing the threat of the new Central Asian jihad

Last July 29, five terrorists in Tajikistan rammed a car into a group of seven Western cyclists and then attacked them with knives. Four of the killed cyclists included a couple from Washington, D.C., who were on a worldwide cycling adventure. The other fatalities were males from Switzerland and the Netherlands, and three others were wounded.

A square shooter finally returns fire

Earlier this month, when the unsupported allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh had just become front page news, I happened to be in a physician's office for a routine check-up. It turned out that my doctor -- whose anonymity I'll respect -- had been a prep school classmate of Judge Kavanaugh.

Revisiting an incorruptible knight in a corrupt world

"Raymond Chandler once wrote that 'some literary antiquarian of a rather special type may one day think it worthwhile to run through the files of the pulp detective magazines' to watch as 'the popular mystery story shed its refined good manners and went native,'" the editors of "The Annotated Big Sleep" write in their introduction of the late, great Raymond Chandler's classic crime novel.