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Noting the serious, even deadly, effects of marijuana

Many people these days, it seems, believe that marijuana is a mostly harmless drug that helps to ease pain and relaxes people, like a good, stiff, alcoholic drink. But like alcohol, the effects of marijuana can be serious and even deadly.

At odds with one another and the world

Families and trust — the emotional kind as well as the financial one — are central to Kathy Wang’s first novel, “Family Trust.”

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Everything you wanted to know about vampires, and then some

When a learned pedant gets going, there's no stopping him. The ultimate example may have been 7th century Saint Isidore of Seville, a pious savant who, according to "The Wordsworth Dictionary of Saints," is best known for his writings, "in particular the Etymologiae, an encyclopaedia of knowledge drawn from many fields which is perhaps more ambitious than strictly accurate."

How to respond to a 'mass victim attack'

With the epidemic of mass casualty attacks at places such as houses of worship, nightclubs, outdoor concerts, offices, schools and even city streets, how can potential victims protect themselves to increase their likelihood of survival? A solution can be found in Gary M. Jackson's "Surviving Mass Victim Attacks," which is a practical guide to prepare for survival if one happens to face such horrific attacks, as it is written by a behavioral psychologist threat expert with extensive operational experience in the U.S. government and the private sector.

Talent, ego and destructive behavior

Losers can co-author history if their story is compelling enough. While the Portland Trail Blazers of the late 1990s and early 2000s never became NBA royalty, they were hall-of-fame drama queens with a combustible mix of talent, ego and destructive behavior that lit up the court.

Revisiting D-Day, without niceties

Extraordinary and excruciating, "Landing on the Edge of Eternity" might be the hardcover version of "Saving Private Ryan"'s torturous opening minutes. Or a nonfiction reprise of Irwin Shaw's "The Young Lions," which humanized soldiers on both sides of World War II.

The next best thing to Ian Fleming

I'm not fond of continuation novels, as some writers, like Raymond Chandler, Ian Fleming and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, have a unique style that truly can't be imitated.

When a famed director tried novel writing

Twenty-one years after the death of director Frank Capra in 1991, his son, Tom, opened a box of his father's possessions. Inside were two very different manuscripts, both written in 1966 with edits made in 1968. Rejected by Hollywood, unable to find a studio for his films, it seems Mr. Capra was still telling stories on his typewriter up in the High Sierras. And boy, did he have some stories to tell.

Bringing alive the great composer's music and humanity

It has long been fashionable for worshippers of "genius" to excuse the thorough nastiness of some of their idols with the all-purpose alibi that, for the truly brilliant, their work must come first with basic standards of decency running, at best, a poor second.

A gripping account of the Marines' heroic stand

On Oct. 15, 1950, early in the Korean War, President Harry S. Truman flew 7,000 miles to Wake Island in the Pacific to meet Gen. Douglas MacArthur, Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers, to ask one simple question: Was there any chance that China would intervene in Korea?

When a war hero loses his way

One cold October day in 1946, back-from-the-reported-dead war hero Pete Banning of Clayton, Mississippi, goes to his Methodist church and points his Army-issue Colt .45 at the young pastor.

The first lady worth getting to know

We call them first ladies but, for the most part, they are second-hand celebrities. Famous for being somebody's wife, usually trapped in a spotlight aimed at their husbands, and soon forgotten once they leave the White House, presidential wives, as a group, tend to fade fast from the public consciousness.

A Japanese journalist and his 'inherited accident'

On Aug. 12, 1985, Japan Airlines Flight 123 crashed on Mount Osutaka. With 520 dead, it remains the deadliest single-airplane disaster in human history. But even globally significant accidents have a local side: Every crash happens somewhere, and this crash happened in Gunma Prefecture, Japan.

Creating a template for mass killing

The Islamic State (ISIS) is notorious for its videotaped death squad executions of its captured Western hostages in Iraq and Syria, and its genocidal mass extermination of the Yazidi Christian community in Iraq. Extremist Sunni Muslim militants in Egypt intentionally target the country's Coptic Christians and instigate the mass bombings of their churches. Genocidal impulses toward demonized groups is not a new human phenomenon, but Nazi Germany may well have contributed the template.

Taking down a brutal gang in San Francisco

"Operation Devil Horns: The Takedown of MS-13 in San Francisco" is a true crime story about one of the most brutal and ruthless transnational gangs in America and the dogged special agents, federal prosecutors and local police officers who took down more than two dozen MS-13 gang members in the City by the Bay.

Revisiting a pivotal battle in the Pacific

"Rampage" is the story of Gen. Douglas MacArthur's return to the Philippines after his escape from Corregidor on April 9, 1942, with this family and a small staff aboard four PT boats. Barely one month later Bataan fell followed by the surrender of Corregidor a little more than three weeks later.

'God has given us borders'

Nationalism -- for many folks, that's bad enough. But the modifiers don't help at all. There's "Black Nationalism," and the still more frightening, to many, "White Nationalism."

'A Taliban state on Europe's doorstep'

In early October 2017 armed militants from the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS), an African affiliate of the Islamic State in Syria, ambushed Nigerien and U.S. soldiers near the village of Tongo Tongo, Niger, while they were returning to their base from what later was reported to be a covert mission.

A forged letter and Russian meddling

For almost a century, a suspected forged letter advocating Russian meddling in a British election has bedeviled politicians of all denominations, especially the Labor Party.

'The most beautiful girl in America'

Back in the day, when the day was the late 1920s and the 1930s, moviemaker Cecil B. DeMille described Sally Rand as "the most beautiful girl in America," and in their ads for her show, producers called her "the most famous woman in the world."