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Tracing the history of a haven of privacy in Hollywood

Hollywood has never lacked for luxurious hotels or restaurants. Stars that are in town to shoot a film have a choice of opulent homes to rent. However, one hotel has the reputation of providing denizens of the film industry with privacy, as well as nonjudgment for behaviors that might be frowned upon in other establishments.

Democracy is always a work in progress

For purely personal reasons, Sheri Berman's "Democracy and Dictatorship" is one of the few books that grabbed me with its opening paragraph:

How a terrorist group contended with its more responsible rivals

This is an informative and dramatic account of the Irgun ("National Military Organization"), a leading dissident Jewish terrorist organization of the pre-1948 Israeli State. From the time of its formation in 1931 and its disbandment in September 1948 (several months after the declaration of Israeli independence in May of that year), the Irgun played an important role in the armed resistance to the British Mandatory Authority in Palestine, as well as in mounting retaliatory attacks against the hostile Palestinian Arab militias.

Setting an example of strength, integrity and fidelity

Sen. Tom Cotton, Arkansas Republican, heard his country's call to service in a law school classroom on the morning of 9/11. In that moment, "I knew the life I had anticipated in the law was over. I wanted to serve our country in uniform on the front lines."

Telling the story of an outsider and a trailblazer

Having interviewed a good number of police officers over the years and having accompanied patrol officers and detectives out on the streets, I've heard a good number of absorbing, amusing and atrocious cop stories.

The soldier-statesman who restored peace in Europe

In 1938, during one of his first meetings with President Franklin Roosevelt, Gen. George Marshall listened to plans to counter Hitler's military build-up by amassing an air force of 10,000 planes immediately, followed by 20,000 annually.

Nascent romance and coming of age in Ireland

One of the hardest things for a novelist to do is to make small things seem big, big in the sense of portentous. In this, her second highly-praised novel, Ms. Rooney does that with deceptive ease; although the author has given but a hint, the reader knows something of great importance will happen down the road -- and the reader is right.

Shadowing Frederick Law Olmsted through antebellum Dixie

Tony Horwitz could switch times slicker than a country singer handing off the melody to the girl on the dulcimer. Whether channeling Capt. Cook in the South Seas or bedding down on frozen ground with a company of Confederate re-enactors, his sublime narratives about old times illuminated our own. Part of his genius and appeal -- a binocular focus revealing the present through the lens of the past and vice versa.