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A nuclear disaster on Soviet watch

Although not recognized as such at the time, the deadly explosion that wrecked the Soviet Union’s showcase nuclear plant in Chernobyl in 1986 was an advance obituary both for the country and the very concept of the communist doctrine.

Life and its absurdities in a Soviet bloc setting

Soon after Elliott Black arrives in Prague from small-town Indiana in the 1990s, his shoes are stolen. That’s understandably distressing — and the more so when he finds them a few days later exhibited in an art gallery.

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The one man wrecking-crew with a strong sense of justice returns

Fans of James Lee Burke's character Dave Robicheaux are glad that the New Iberia, Louisiana, Cajun detective has returned in "The New Iberia Blues," a sequel to last year's "Robicheaux." They should also be glad to know that Mr. Burke is currently working on the third novel to this trilogy.

Repeating the worst of financial history

In Alex J. Pollock's new book, "Finance and Philosophy: Why We're Always Surprised," not only do these two disparate topics co-exist, they help answer the question of why smart people -- investors, traders, bankers, regulators, politicians -- continue to make the same money mistakes, and are continually surprised at the unfortunate results.

Strengthening the bond between Israel and the United States

With President Donald Trump's administration about to propose a comprehensive peace plan to resolve the protracted Israeli-Palestinian conflict, likely following Israel's upcoming parliamentary elections on April 9, everyone is trying to figure out the measures that will finally succeed in resolving this conflict following numerous failed peace initiatives.

A story of sheer bravery and survival

One's reflexive first thought is wonderment at why the British Special Operations Executive (SOE) recruited a woman, Odette Sansom, for a hazardous mission into German-occupied France.

Surveying French history, delightfully

If your primary knowledge of Cardinal Richelieu comes from the tales of Dumas, if you associate terror with the name Robespierre but can't say quite why, if you could intelligibly insert "J'accuse" into conversation without raising an eyebrow but can't explain its exact historical origin, John Julius Norwich's "A History Of France" is the book for you.

Tobacco fields, a murder and a marriage

Passengers flying into Hartford's Bradley International Airport descend over ultra-long barns spaced out on the flat lands of the Connecticut Valley. In midsummer they are surrounded by crops shrouded in white muslin, and a few weeks later, when their louvered sides are opened to the air, sharp-eyed visitors driving by may spot long golden leaves hanging inside.

If Michelangelo had gone to Constantinople

History blinks, sometimes at a big moment, sometimes at a small one. The loss is imperceptible centuries later, but in those forgotten moments, there can be experiences that echo through history.

Why human beings are both goat and lion

Many of us think that on the whole human beings are pretty nice: Usually friendly and helpful, even self-sacrificing. In contrast, others point to our frequent cruelty, violence and the horrendous wars that are never out of the news.

When pigeons pitched in for the cause

A chronic problem for spies operating in enemy territory is transmitting their findings to their home base. The problem was especially acute in World War II Europe, where German signal-detection technology, based on triangulation skills, took a deadly toll on agents.