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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.

‘The factory still defines our world’

For three centuries, the factory system has thrived in our world. It became an important friend and ally of capitalists and communists. It played an important role in the 19th-century Industrial Revolution. It created products that led to greater economic growth, job opportunities and market share. It pitted bosses against workers, caused the rise of trade unions, and could make or break the future of a city, town and community.

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How a post office inspector thwarted violent criminals

"On the night of April 18, 1908, in the railroad town Bellefontaine, Ohio, eighteen-year-old Charles Demar walked into the fruit shop he owned with his uncle, Salvatore Cira, and put a bullet into his uncle's head," opens the story of a Post Office inspector who investigated Black Hand criminals -- with a suitable bang.

A robbery and the redemptive power of books

George Pelecanos "knows." He knows Washington, D.C., its suburbs, neighborhoods, streets, alleys and backyards and their bars and clubs, not to mention what his characters hear, wear and drive. But most of all, George Pelecanos knows the area's people. Be they cops or the pimps and their girls, it often seems he knows them better than they know themselves. Why? Because he's a product of Washington, D.C, of these same neighborhoods, streets and alleys.

Losing community, indulging hatred

Ben Sasse identifies himself as "a husband, a dad, a Christian, an American, a conservative, a Republican, a Nebraskan, a Cornhusker football addict, a historian. For a time, I'm also a public servant," serving as Nebraska's junior senator since 2015.

America's part in freeing Poland

A surge of labor unrest in Poland in 1981 set CIA minds into motion. Officers saw a splendid opportunity to give the tottering Soviet Union a swift kick and bring freedom to people who had suffered for decades under foreign domination.

Why 'Putinism' may last but can't succeed

If books were sold by the pound, Brian Taylor's slender, concise volume on Russia under Vladimir Putin would be overpriced. With only 209 pages of actual text, it is a fraction of the length of many windier, weightier academic books that say more while telling us less.

Making the best of the hand he was given

A million British combatants died in World War I, and hundreds of thousands of survivors were disabled or shell-shocked. As a daring pilot of the world's first military airplanes, Daniel Pitt, hero of Louis de Bernieres' latest novel, confidently expected that he too would die. But the title "So Much Life Left Over" alerts us that he lives to tussle with life in the 1920s and '30s.

Florida as it has not been seen before

If you've ever driven across southern Florida from Miami to Naples, you probably took the 80-mile stretch of Interstate 75 known as Alligator Alley, which means you went through the Everglades and saw the ominous sign "Panther Crossing." Despite what you may have thought, the sign's purpose is not to protect motorists from these beautiful creatures, but to protect the panthers, an endangered species, from being hit by speeding cars. Nonetheless, just seeing the sign is enough to give most people the willies.

A case study in paranoid Trump derangement

Just when you think you've finally had it with Donald Trump, the rabid ravings of his critics make him seem calm and reasonable by comparison.

'Education runs on lies'

Arne Duncan's memoir of his experience as U.S. secretary of Education under President Barack Obama draws you in because he acknowledges that K-12 education in America is built on a tissue of lies. His opening sentence is: "Education runs on lies." But all too often he himself falls into misstatements, delusions and omissions of needed facts. Blinders made out of his beliefs block him from facing reality.