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Honoring St. Francis as the boisterous man he was

Dario Fo, who died in 2016 at the age of 90, was an Italian playwright, actor, director, designer, painter, singer, songwriter and political campaigner for the Italian left. In awarding him the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1997, the Swedish Academy praised Mr. Fo as a writer “who emulates the jesters of the Middle Ages in scourging authority and upholding the dignity of the downtrodden.”

A savvy guide to investing, geared toward the young

This is a book about investing, aimed primarily at potential young investors — although investors of all ages can benefit from it — written by a longtime and notably successful investor.

A former James Bond says goodbye

Although I much prefer Sean Connery’s dark and dangerous portrayal of Ian Fleming’s iconic character James Bond to Sir Roger Moore’s light and comedic approach, I was a huge fan of Mr. Moore’s portrayal of Leslie Charteris’ Simon Templar in the 1960s TV series “The Saint.”

A statesman in life, forgotten in death

History is unkind to compromisers. If they succeed, disaster is averted and the compromiser is soon forgotten. If they fail, they’re often scapegoated for subsequent events. Neville Chamberlain, the British prime minister whose negotiations averted war with Hitler over Czechoslovakia comes to mind. Chamberlain thought his concessions had brought “peace in our time.”

Deconstructing the myths of the Arab-Israeli conflict

There are few countries in the world that produce an emotional response quite like Israel. From its birth as a modern nation in 1948, this country has faced everything from preserving ancient history to threats of annihilation by its worst enemies.

Building a mystery around law school debt

At the end of the author’s note in this, his 39th novel, he tells readers that “The question all writers hate is: ‘Where do you get your ideas?’ But then he answers it — “I read an article in the September 2014 edition of the Atlantic titled ‘The Law School Scam.’ It’s a fine investigative piece by Paul Campos. By the end of it I was inspired and knew I had my next novel. Thank you, Mr. Campos.”

Remedial reading for Vladimir Putin and Bernie Sanders

Unlike many of his fellow academics, Yuri Slezkine, a professor of history at the University of California, Berkeley, is also an extremely gifted writer whose insight and erudition extend far beyond his specific discipline. He also has a keen sense of humor, which comes in handy when writing a massive book on a tragically depressing subject.

Related Articles

The 'drunk' who preserved the Union

At hand is a masterpiece of biography, the best of the genre that I have encountered in almost seven decades of reading. Ron Chernow's book should vault Ulysses S. Grant into a deserved but long-denied position in the front rank of great American presidents.

Sleuthing again in Botswana, with panache

She's back! She's back! And Botswana can relax again in the knowledge that Mma Precious Ramotswe is still hard at work solving problems with her unique No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency.

A laborious book on a fascinating subject

Some books are worth reading because of their author, others because of their subject. The second volume of Sidney Blumenthal's massive -- and occasionally bloated -- political life of Abraham Lincoln falls into the latter category.

Mining the roots of the 'why and how' of terrorism

Ideology plays an important role in terrorists' warfare. It provides them with a rationale, legitimacy and motivation for attacking their adversaries and a prism through which they perceive events affecting them, particularly the "illegitimate" actions of their enemies whom they are justified in killing because they have transgressed the tenets of their ideological framework.

The man who brought calamity to Russia

As biographer Victor Sebestyen writes in his horrifying biography of Vladimir Lenin, under communism "millions of people were killed, jailed or sent into the great maw of the gulag." The estimated body count, in Russia and the rest of the world, is in multi-digit territory.

A dedicated Marine and his loyal dog

Not all men are qualified to be Marines and dogs are even more unusual. Fred is a stray with short legs and big ears who is adopted by Sgt. Craig Grossi (a nine-year Marine corps veteran) when he wanders into the platoon's compound where the toilet is a chicken coop.

This picture of Sept. 09, 1939, shows Austrian-born Sigmund Freud, psychoanalyst. (Associated Press) ** FILE **

'Freud: The making of an illusion' by Frederick Crews

If there is anything to the theory of reincarnation, Sigmund Freud must have been Moby Dick in a past life and his most recent biographer, Frederick Crews, was probably Captain Ahab.

The assassination of Spain's greatest poet, and his words

"Lorca is constantly in the Spanish news; he is a subject in himself, like the presidency or the economy or the weather," writes Sarah Arvio, translator of a new volume of his work. You don't have to spend long in Spain to learn that her observation is true.

Revisiting a vain and peacock-proud presidency

Just when we thought there is something new under the sun, consider this: A New York plutocrat, who won fame for greed, wheeler-dealing and extravagance without ever holding elective office, becomes president of the United States. Now reconsider: It happened in 1881.

Giving 'a man of prudence, character and compassion' his due

As men and politicians, Presidents Polk (1845-1849) and McKinley (1897-1901) would seem to have had little in common -- Polk, a small, plain, secretive and introspective man; and McKinley, an energetic, outgoing veteran of the Civil War who worked his way up through the ranks, from private to brevet major; then a law degree, and systematically up through the political system -- Congress, governor of Ohio, and president.