Monday, March 31, 2008

What is Ann Cleeves reading?

The latest contributor to Writers Read: Ann Cleeves, winner of the Duncan Lawrie Dagger Award for best crime novel of 2006 for Raven Black, the first volume of her Shetland Quartet.

Her entry begins:
Well, I love European crime in translation. I've been asked to interview the Norwegian writer Karin Fossum at Crime Fest in Bristol in June, so I've been re-reading her backlist and catching up on her most recent titles. Her new book Broken isn't really crime fiction, but it is very creepy. It's about the process of imagination, I think. About how writers write. [read on]
The follow-up to Raven Black, White Nights, will be released this week in the UK and in September in the US.

Among the early praise for White Nights:
"In true Agatha Christie style, Cleeves once again pulls the wool over our eyes with cunning and conviction."
--Colin Dexter

"A most satisfying mystery set in an isolated and intriguing location."
--Peter Robinson
Visit Cleeves's website and read her online diary.

The Page 99 Test: Raven Black.

Writers Read: Ann Cleeves.

--Marshal Zeringue

Interview: Steve Hockensmith

Today at Author Interviews: the second of a two-part Q&A in which award-winning mystery writers, both with new novels in bookstores, quiz each other about their writing.

In part one, Steve Hockensmith (of the “Holmes on the Range” mystery series) interviewed Bill Crider (of the Dan Rhodes mystery series) about Crider’s new book, Of All Sad Words, and related subjects. In part two, Crider questions Hockensmith about his new book, The Black Dove.

Check out Big Red's blog to learn more about Steve Hockensmith and his writing.

Hockensmith's previous novels include Holmes on the Range and On the Wrong Track.

The Page 69 Test: On the Wrong Track.

My Book, The Movie: Holmes on the Range.

The Page 99 Test: The Black Dove.

* * *

Visit Bill Crider's website and his blog.

Read the Page 69 Test entries for Crider's A Mammoth Murder and Murder Among the OWLS as well as an excellent write-up about Dan Rhodes on the big screen at "My Book, The Movie."

The Page 69 Test: Of All Sad Words.

Author Interviews: Bill Crider.

Author Interviews: Steve Hockensmith.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Reed Farrel Coleman's "Empty Ever After"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: Reed Farrel Coleman's Empty Ever After.

About the book, from the publisher:

There are no second acts for the dead…or are there?

For over twenty years, retired NYPD officer and PI Moe Prager, has been haunted by the secret that would eventually destroy his family. Now, two years after the fallout from the truth, more than secrets are haunting the Prager family. Moe Prager follows a trail of graverobbers from cemetery to cemetery, from ashes to ashes and back again in order to finally solve the enigma of his dead brother-in-law Patrick. He plunges deeper into the dark recesses of his past than ever before, revisiting all of his old cases, in order to uncover the twisted alchemy of vengeance and resurrection. Will Moe, at last, put his past to rest? Will he find the man who belongs in that vacant grave or will it remain empty, empty ever after?

Empty Ever After is the fifth of Coleman's Moe Prager novels.

Among the praise for the Moe Prager series:
"Reed Farrel Coleman makes claim to a unique corner of the private detective genre ... with great poignancy and passion he constructs a tale that fittingly underlines how we are all captives of the past. Moe Prager is my kind of private eye."
--Michael Connelly, author of The Narrows

"Moe Prager is the thinking man's PI. He's a reluctant but dogged investigator, a family man even when the family's irritating (or worse), and a straight-ahead ex-cop willing to spend some mental energy on questions of loyalty, love, and religion."
--S.J. Rozan, author of Absent Friends

"Moe Prager is a family man who can find the humanity in almost everyone he meets; he is a far from perfect hero, but an utterly appealing one. Let's hope that his soft heart and lively mind continue to lure him out of his wine shop for many, many more cases."
--Laura Lippman, author of Every Secret Thing

"The author makes us care about his characters and what happens to them, conveying a real sense of human absurdity and tragedy ... a first-rate mystery. Moe is a fine sleuth. Coleman is an excellent writer."
--Publishers Weekly
Learn more about the novel and author at Reed Farrel Coleman's website.

The Page 69 Test: Redemption Street.

The Page 69 Test: Empty Ever After.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Ron Currie, Jr.'s "God Is Dead," the movie

Now showing at My Book, The Movie: Ron Currie, Jr.'s God Is Dead.

Currie's entry begins:
When I was approached about contributing to MBTM, my first instinct was to try to dodge the specifics of the site’s premise—namely that I should choose the actor(s) I thought would best portray the book’s characters—because I couldn’t for the life of me think of who could play the titular character. God, in the book, is a young, slender Dinka woman on the run from marauding packs of Janjaweed militia. If the role were straight tragedy there are probably a dozen actresses who’d fit the bill, but the tone of the story requires a slight yet palpable element of humor from the character, one that would need to be conveyed subtly, without the aid of any dialogue cues, a challenge not many actors are equal to.

So instead I turned to a few of the book’s other characters. First to mind was Colin Powell, who dominates the first chapter. This is not the stern, measured soldier and statesman you see on the evening news, though—he’s a furious, foul-mouthed race warrior who obsessively watches Samuel Jackson movies to learn how to speak “black.” [read on]
Visit Ron Currie, Jr.'s MySpace page, and learn more about God Is Dead.

The Page 69 Test: God Is Dead.

My Book, The Movie: God Is Dead.

--Marshal Zeringue

Interview: Bill Crider

At Author Interviews today: the first of a two-part Q&A in which award-winning mystery scribes, both with new novels in bookstores, grill each other about their writing.

In part one, Steve Hockensmith (of the “Holmes on the Range” mystery series) interviews Bill Crider (of the Dan Rhodes mystery series) about Crider’s new book, Of All Sad Words. In part two (which will be posted tomorrow), Crider questions Hockensmith about his new book, The Black Dove.

Visit Bill Crider's website and his blog.

Read the Page 69 Test entries for Crider's A Mammoth Murder and Murder Among the OWLS as well as an excellent write-up about Dan Rhodes on the big screen at "My Book, The Movie."

The Page 69 Test: Of All Sad Words.

Check out Big Red's blog to learn more about Steve Hockensmith and his writing.

Hockensmith's novels include Holmes on the Range, On the Wrong Track, and The Black Dove.

The Page 69 Test: On the Wrong Track.

My Book, The Movie: Holmes on the Range.

The Page 99 Test: The Black Dove.

Author Interviews: Bill Crider.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Doree Lewak's “The Panic Years”

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: Doree Lewak's The Panic Years: A Guide to Surviving Smug Married Friends, Bad Taffeta, and Life on the Wrong Side of 25 without a Ring.

About the book, from the publisher:
According to author Doree Lewak, the Panic Years mark the point (usually around your twenty-sixth birthday) when your dating agenda fundamentally changes—from dating for a fling to dating for a ring. Suddenly your newly married friends feel more like enemies, weddings become mocking reminders of your own single status, and you contemplate going on a reality TV show to find true love. What’s a girl to do?

In The Panic Years, Lewak delivers a hilarious and helpful road map for conquering the Panic and finding Mr. Right. As Lewak shows, you can win the race to the altar by changing your tactics from Panicked to Proactive—and keeping your sense of humor along the way. You will learn how to:

Cope with Panic by Proxy—pushy friends and parents.
Successfully hunt for PFs (Potential Fiancés).
Project hotness and desirability.
Set—and stick to—dating time lines.
Avoid being bitter at your friends’ weddingsand ruining all their pictures with that scowl on your face.
Get the ring and the proposal and seal the deal!

Packed with true-life stories from the Panic trenches as well as indispensable advice, The Panic Years is the ultimate guide for anyone who wants to survive her single years (with sanity intact), snag her perfect guy, and remain fabulous throughout it all.
Among the early praise for the book:
"The Panic Years brings cheeky humor, style, and insights to a sharp new set of ‘rules’ for single women. I loved it.”
—Dave Singleton, relationship columnist for MSN and, and author of Behind Every Woman There’s a Fabulous Gay Man

[T]his book by twentysomething Newsday trend reporter Lewak serves as a "boot camp for brides-to-be." Lewak speaks to the bitterness many singles experience seeing happily married young couples and to their desperation at being still single. While she encourages the single female reader to enjoy her freedom, she devotes entire chapters to such topics as how to project hotness and desirability and when to start booking the caterers. The writing is sassy and humorous, and the quizzes and sidebars are fun."
School Library Journal
Watch Doree Lewak introduce The Panic Years.

Read an excerpt from The Panic Years, and learn more about the book and author at The Panic Years website and MySpace page.

Doree Lewak's writing work has appeared in Glamour, Entertainment Weekly, Time Out New York, NY Daily News, Metro, The Jerusalem Post and more.

The Page 99 Test: The Panic Years.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Five best: books about the search for Eden

Jonathan Rosen, the editorial director of Nextbook and author, most recently, of The Life of the Skies: Birding at the End of Nature, picked the five best books about the search for Eden for the Wall Street Journal.

One title on his list:

Tristes Tropiques
By Claude Lévi-Strauss

"I hate traveling and explorers," writes the French anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss on the first page of "Tristes Tropiques," a memoir of travel and exploration. (It was ably translated for Penguin by John Weightman in 1992.) In 1935, Lévi-Strauss sailed from France to Brazil to search for primitive Amazon tribes, the ones most untouched by civilization. But civilization trails him everywhere -- to his disgust, he cannot get a Chopin nocturne out of his head as he wanders through the jungle. Indeed, it is the balance of contradictory elements -- the awareness of barbarism's rise in Europe under Hitler and the waning primitivism of the Amazon, the romantic yearning for an "unspoiled" world painstakingly recorded by a scientific eye -- that gives the book its power.

See which book topped Rosen's list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: "The Girl Who Stopped Swimming"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: The Girl Who Stopped Swimming by Joshilyn Jackson.

About the book, from the publisher:
Laurel Gray Hawthorne hasn't seen a ghost in the thirteen years she and her husband have lived in the beautiful gated neighborhood of Victorianna. Keeping her head down, she's managed to make a good life for her beloved daughter and husband while working on her nationally acclaimed art quilts. But in the dog days of a Florida August, she wakes to find a dead girl standing by her bed. It's the ghost of her daughter's best friend, Molly, who leads the way to her own small body, floating lifelessly in the Hawthornes' backyard pool. Now, with police on her lawn and neighbors peeking over the fence, Laurel's carefully constructed existence cracks, and her past seeps through.

Laurel and her sister, Thalia, grew up in what appears to be a typical blue-collar home, but the Grays have long been hiding a very literal skeleton in their closet. While Laurel built her pretty, pleasing life in the suburbs, Thalia became an actress with a capital A, about as unconventional as they come. She's the walking definition of mess, and no longer fits in Laurel's tidy world. Yet Molly can't rest until someone learns her secrets, and she has opened a door to the past that Laurel can't close alone. She turns to her wild and estranged sister, though asking for Thalia's help is like jumping into a hot frying pan protected only by a thin layer of Crisco. Together they set out on a life-altering journey that will reveal their family's buried history, the true state of Laurel's perfect marriage, and what really happened to the girl who stopped swimming.
Among the early praise for the novel:
"Jackson matches effortless Southern storytelling with a keen eye for character and heart-stopping circumstances... What makes this novel shine are its revelations about the dark side of Southern society and Thalia and Laurel's finely honed relationship, which shows just how much thicker blood is than water."
--Publishers Weekly

"On the heels of the successful gods in Alabama and Between, Georgia - both #1 BookSense picks - Jackson again reinvents the GRITS (Girls Raised in the South) novel. Quilt artist Laurel, her game programmer husband, David, and their 13-year-old daughter, Shelby, lead a seemingly charmed life in a serene Florida suburb. But when the ghost of a drowned girl awakens Laurel, the veneer of that life seems ready to crack beyond repair. Can Laurel trust her flamboyant, outspoken sister, Thalia, to help as old family secrets emerge with dizzying speed? With the appearance of a ghost on the first page, you'll feel compelled to race to the end, but slow down for Jackson's great descriptions - you'll be rewarded for the effort. Jackson illuminates not just the complexities of family love as a source of safety and support but also the complexities of danger and death. The life-affirming epilog provides satisfying closure; libraries will want to own all three novels."
--Library Journal

"Joshilyn Jackson has done it again. With a storyteller's easy grace, she whisks readers between bourgeois Victorianna, where dirty laundry and family drunks are secured firmly behind a Sunbonnet Sue exterior, and the unfathomable poverty of DeLop, a town of single-wides, chained pitbulls and no way out - unless you're willing to sacrifice your very soul. Nothing is quite as it seems, and Jackson's skilful unraveling of family secrets and betrayal left me breathless. You must read this book!"
-- Sara Gruen, NYT Bestselling author of Water for Elephants and Riding Lessons

"In The Girl Who Stopped Swimming, Joshilyn Jackson tells a mysterious, mournful story, and adds to what is shaping up as her great strength as a novelist: a deep, empathetic understanding of the impoverished (in both the earthly and in spirit), and a genius for unveiling the complexities of the South. Even in a page-turner like this, where the 'who' and the 'how' compel the book and fascinate the reader, she never fails to be humane, or to turn a kind eye toward every condition."
--Haven Kimmel Author of The Solace of Leaving Early, A Girl Named Zippy, and The Used World

"Do you crave a novel that will cause you to skip work or miss meals or put off sleep in order to keep reading it? In that case, you will definitely want to get hold of Joshilyn Jackson's latest. The Girl Who Stopped Swimming is lushly southern, and just darn good story-telling. Laurel is one of the best characters to come out of a modern novel in a very long time. In fact, she's one of the best characters to come from anywhere in what seems forever! Joshilyn had me from the moment the drowned girl walked into Laurel's bedroom which, by the way, was in the first sentence!"
--Homer Hickam, author of October Sky and The Far Reaches
Read excerpts from The Girl Who Stopped Swimming, and learn more about the author and her books at Joshilyn Jackson's website.

Joshilyn Jackson's short fiction has been published in literary magazines and anthologies including TriQuarterly and Calyx, and her plays have been produced in Atlanta and Chicago. Her bestselling debut novel, gods in Alabama won SIBA's 2005 Novel of the year Award and was a #1 BookSense pick. Her second book, Between, Georgia, was also a #1 BookSense pick.

The Page 69 Test: The Girl Who Stopped Swimming.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Jeremi Suri reading?

The latest contributor to Writers Read: Jeremi Suri, author of Henry Kissinger and the American Century and other books.

One title tagged in his entry:
Nicholas Carr's provocative book, The Big Switch. Carr analyzes how we are living through a second revolution in power comparable to the development of mass electrical utilities in the late nineteenth century. In our contemporary world, computing power is migrating to large utilities like Google. This democratization of computing power makes it cheaper, but also more open to monopoly and manipulation. Carr's book wonderfully mixes historical analysis with future prognostication. [read on]
For more on Carr's book, see: The Page 99 Test: The Big Switch.

Jeremi Suri is a history professor at the University of Wisconsin. His publications include The Global Revolutions of 1968 and Power and Protest: Global Revolution and the Rise of Détente.

Learn more about Henry Kissinger and the American Century, and read an excerpt, at the Harvard University Press website.

Melvyn P. Leffler, author of A Preponderance of Power, on Henry Kissinger and the American Century:
Suri has provided a brilliant and balanced portrait of Henry Kissinger. Shaped by his childhood in Germany, his adolescence in New York, and his wartime experiences in the army, Kissinger was forever the outsider, indelibly influenced by his Jewishness, even as he became the consummate insider. Suri incisively analyzes the qualities that made Kissinger so attractive to patrons like Nelson Rockefeller and Richard Nixon, but also skillfully examines the flaws that will forever tarnish Kissinger's legacy.
The Page 99 Test: Henry Kissinger and the American Century.

Author Interviews: Jeremi Suri.

Writers Read: Jeremi Suri.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, March 28, 2008

Pg. 99: Nick Smith's "I Was Wrong"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: Nick Smith's I Was Wrong: The Meanings of Apologies.

About the book, from the publisher:
Apologies can be profoundly meaningful, yet many gestures of contrition - especially those in legal contexts - appear hollow and even deceptive. Discussing numerous examples from ancient and recent history, I Was Wrong argues that we suffer from considerable confusion about the moral meanings and social functions of these complex interactions. Rather than asking whether a speech act ‘is or is not’ an apology, Smith offers a highly nuanced theory of apologetic meaning. Smith leads us though a series of rich philosophical and interdisciplinary questions, explaining how apologies have evolved from a confluence of diverse cultural and religious practices that do not translate easily into secular discourse or gender stereotypes. After classifying several varieties of apologies between individuals, Smith turns to apologies from collectives. Although apologies from corporations, governments, and other groups can be quite meaningful in certain respects, we should be suspicious of those that supplant apologies from individual wrongdoers.
Listen to Nick Smith discuss his book on The Diane Rehm Show.

Read an excerpt from I Was Wrong, and learn more about the book from the Cambridge University Press website.

Nick Smith is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of New Hampshire. Visit his faculty webpage and personal website.

The Page 99 Test: I Was Wrong.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Jean-Michel Cousteau reading?

Underwater documentarian Jean-Michel Cousteau talked to the Christian Science Monitor about what he has been listening to and watching. And reading:
I'm reading the book that Ed Begley Jr., the actor, has produced [Living Like Ed: A Guide to the Eco-Friendly Life]. He's on the cover and holding a light bulb. I know him – not well, but we've been at many events together. For example, he is telling us, and rightfully so, that if you have an electric car, you think you're doing the right thing. No you're not. Because you're plugging your electric car in a socket and that energy that is taking care of your batteries is coming from a power plant. And that power plant, in many instances, is powered by fuel, by oil. That's why, at least for now, hybrids are better because you create your own energy by driving.
Read about Cousteau's viewing and musical enthusiasms.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Pg. 69: Hillary Jordan's "Mudbound"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: Hillary Jordan's Mudbound.

About the book, from the publisher:
In Jordan's prize-winning debut, prejudice takes many forms, both subtle and brutal. It is 1946, and city-bred Laura McAllan is trying to raise her children on her husband's Mississippi Delta farm—a place she finds foreign and frightening. In the midst of the family's struggles, two young men return from the war to work the land. Jamie McAllan, Laura's brother-in-law, is everything her husband is not—charming, handsome, and haunted by his memories of combat. Ronsel Jackson, eldest son of the black sharecroppers who live on the McAllan farm, has come home with the shine of a war hero. But no matter his bravery in defense of his country, he is still considered less than a man in the Jim Crow South. It is the unlikely friendship of these brothers-in-arms that drives this powerful novel to its inexorable conclusion.

The men and women of each family relate their versions of events and we are drawn into their lives as they become players in a tragedy on the grandest scale. As Kingsolver says of Hillary Jordan, "Her characters walked straight out of 1940s Mississippi and into the part of my brain where sympathy and anger and love reside, leaving my heart racing. They are with me still."
Among the praise for Mudbound:
“[A] beautiful debut . . . A superbly rendered depiction of the fury and terror wrought by racism."
--Publishers Weekly

“[A] sophisticated, complex first novel.”
--Booklist, starred review

"[A] poignant and moving debut novel . . . Jordan faultlessly portrays the values of the 1940s as she builds to a stunning conclusion. Highly recommended."
--Library Journal, starred review

Mudbound is a real page-turner—a tangle of history, tragedy, and romance powered by guilt, moral indignation, and a near chorus of unstoppable voices.”
--Stewart O’Nan, author of A Prayer for the Dying and Last Night at the Lobster

“This is storytelling at the height of its powers: the ache of wrongs not yet made right, the fierce attendance of history made as real as rain, as true as this minute. Hillary Jordan writes with the force of a Delta storm. Her characters walked straight out of 1940's Mississippi and into the part of my brain where sympathy and anger and love reside, leaving my heart racing. They are with me still.”
--Barbara Kingsolver

“[A] supremely readable debut novel . . . Fluidly narrated by engaging characters . . . Mudbound is packed with drama. Pick it up and pass it on."
--Michelle Green, People, Critics Choice, 4-star review
Read an excerpt from Mudbound, and learn more about the author and her work at Hillary Jordan's website.

Hillary Jordan spent fifteen years working as an advertising copywriter before starting to write fiction. She earned her MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia University. Her short fiction has appeared in numerous literary journals, including StoryQuarterly and The Carolina Quarterly.

The Page 69 Test: Mudbound.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Peter Corris reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Peter Corris, author of the acclaimed crime-fiction Cliff Hardy series as well as non-crime books such as The Journal of Fletcher Christian (2005).

One book among his recent reading:
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson.... I'm about half way through the Larsson. Scandinavian crime writers are all the rage at the moment. They have the bleakness of the climate on their side -- crime writing requiring an element of bleakness. I'm enjoying the story but I have feeling, at over 500 pages, that the book is a bit padded. [read on]
Learn more about the full Cliff Hardy series and Peter Corris's other fiction and non-fiction at his website.

Read The Page 99 Test: Appeal Denied.

See what Corris thinks about the work of Dennis Lehane, George Pelecanos, Walter Mosley, and James Elroy in this 2003 profile in The Age.

View the Peter Corris plaque, Circular Quay, Sydney (via Matilda).

Writers Read: Peter Corris.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Robert Paarlberg's "Starved for Science"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: Robert Paarlberg's Starved for Science: How Biotechnology Is Being Kept Out of Africa.

About the book, from the publisher:
Heading upcountry in Africa to visit small farms is absolutely exhilarating given the dramatic beauty of big skies, red soil, and arid vistas, but eventually the two-lane tarmac narrows to rutted dirt, and the journey must continue on foot. The farmers you eventually meet are mostly women, hardworking but visibly poor. They have no improved seeds, no chemical fertilizers, no irrigation, and with their meager crops they earn less than a dollar a day. Many are malnourished.

Nearly two-thirds of Africans are employed in agriculture, yet on a per-capita basis they produce roughly 20 percent less than they did in 1970. Although modern agricultural science was the key to reducing rural poverty in Asia, modern farm science—including biotechnology—has recently been kept out of Africa.

In Starved for Science Robert Paarlberg explains why poor African farmers are denied access to productive technologies, particularly genetically engineered seeds with improved resistance to insects and drought. He traces this obstacle to the current opposition to farm science in prosperous countries. Having embraced agricultural science to become well-fed themselves, those in wealthy countries are now instructing Africans—on the most dubious grounds—not to do the same.

In a book sure to generate intense debate, Paarlberg details how this cultural turn against agricultural science among affluent societies is now being exported, inappropriately, to Africa. Those who are opposed to the use of agricultural technologies are telling African farmers that, in effect, it would be just as well for them to remain poor.
Among the pre-publication recognition for the book:
"Except for South Africa, no African state has legalized the planting of GMOs for production and consumption. While citizens of rich countries have the luxury of deciding what kinds of foods--organic, nonorganic, GMO, non-GMO--to eat, droughts and insect infestations continue to wipe out crops, and rural African children die because they have no choices. Bringing another perspective to the GMO debate [is] Paarlberg's provocative argument."
--Joshua Lambert, Library Journal
Norman Borlaug, Distinguished Professor of International Agriculture at Texas A&M University and Nobel Peace Prize winner, and Jimmy Carter wrote the foreword to Starved for Science.

Read an excerpt from Starved for Science, and learn more about the book at the Harvard University Press website.

Robert Paarlberg is the Betty Freyhof Johnson Professor of Political Science at Wellesley College.

The Page 99 Test: Starved for Science.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Pg. 69: Declan Hughes' "The Price of Blood"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: The Price of Blood by Declan Hughes.

About the book, from the publisher's website:
What's in a name? Apparently everything for Ed Loy, because that's the only information Father Vincent Tyrrell, brother of prominent racehorse trainer F. X. Tyrrell, offers when he asks for Ed's help in finding a missing person. Even the best private eye needs more than just a name, but hard times and a dwindling bank account make it difficult for Loy to say no.

He is not without luck, however. While working another case, Loy discovers a phone number that seems linked to F.X. found on an unidentified body. Thinking it more than a coincidence, he begins digging into the history of the Tyrrells—a history consumed with trading and dealing, gambling and horse breeding—and soon realizes there is more to the family than meets the eye, a suspicion confirmed when two more people with connections to the Tyrrells are killed.

On the eve of one of Ireland's most anticipated sporting events, the four-day Leopardstown Race-course Christmas Festival, all bets are off as Loy pursues a twisted killer on the final leg of a reckless master plan.

In The Price of Blood, Declan Hughes once again paints an arresting portrait of an Ireland not found in any guidebooks. Deadly passions beget dark secrets in a chilling story that will have readers on edge right up to its shocking conclusion.
Among the early praise for The Price of Blood:
"Hired by Father Vincent Tyrrell to find Patrick Hutton, a jockey missing for 10 years, Ed Loy quickly finds himself investigating not one but two grisly murders in playwright Hughes's stellar third novel to feature the Dublin PI (after 2007's The Color of Blood). At the same time, Loy must stay on his guard against members of the Halligan family, who blame him for the incarceration of one of their own. An innocent fling with the mysterious Miranda Hart leads Loy ever deeper into the heart of a complex drama that spans decades and involves several members of the powerful Tyrrell family. At least one murder turns out not to be what it seems. Beaten up, warned off and yet undaunted, Loy uncovers a horrible series of secrets, leading to a violent and labyrinthine conclusion at a famous Irish horse-racing festival. This intelligent, often brutal thriller will have readers' hearts racing from start to finish."
--Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Hughes, a former playwright, is a veteran at establishing mood, pace and tone at an early stage, and the Christmas period during which the events swiftly unfold is as much a player in this story as any of its flesh-and-blood characters. He’s also very good at weaving together a number of diverse sub-plots, and here touches on a number of hot-topic issues of recent Irish history: corruption in Irish horseracing; neglect and abuse in Church-run industrial schools; the declining influence of the Church when juxtaposed with the inexorable rise of Mammon; the infiltration of all levels of Irish society by illegally amassed wealth. The style, which is of the tough, hardboiled variety, owes as much to Raymond Chandler as it does Ross Macdonald, with Hughes showcasing a deft hand at leavening the grim tone with flashes of mordant wit: 'Neither had been a jockey; the plasterer sounded amused at the suggestion, the solicitor mysteriously outraged, as if I’d accused him of being a sex criminal, or a DJ.'"
--Declan Burke

"Hughes's abilities to craft a 'Dublin noir' crime novel and to expand the character of Ed Loy combine to make this a welcome addition to an eminently readable new series. Highly recommended."
--Library Journal

“Tough, ironically self-aware, loyal, Ed [Loy] is the perfect Chandleresque hero. But the book’s various twists, including rumours of Catholic abuse at a now-closed home for boys, wrap themselves around a dense core of Irish authenticity, all the voices pitch-perfect, all the developments dark,”
--P.G. Koch, Houston Chronicle

"This dark mystery manges to be quintessentially, unsentimentally Irish - and as twisty and nasty as The Big Sleep and Chinatown ... atmospheric and tough, with a lot of excellently described drinking."
Learn more about Declan Hughes and his books at the publisher's website, his website, and his blog. Read Kevin Burton Smith's June 2007 interview with Hughes at January Magazine.

Hughes has worked for more than twenty years in the theater in Dublin as director and playwright. In 1984, he co-founded Rough Magic, Ireland's leading independent theater company. He has been writer in association with the Abbey Theatre and remains an artistic associate of Rough Magic. His novels include The Wrong Kind of Blood and The Color of Blood.

The Page 69 Test: The Price of Blood.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Katherine Ashenburg reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Katherine Ashenburg, author of The Dirt on Clean: An Unsanitized History.

Two books mentioned in her entry:
a guide to Stockholm, where I am going for Easter weekend, and a new Spanish mystery, given to me by my publishers [in London], Profile. It's called Tattoo, by Manuel Vázquez Montalbán, and will be published this year. The detective, based in Barcelona, has a taste for good food, and Amsterdam, two favourites of mine. [read on]
Katherine Ashenburg is the prize-winning author of three non-fiction books and hundreds of articles on subjects that range from travel to mourning customs to architecture.

From the New York Times Style Magazine, on The Dirt on Clean:
"Utterly engaging as guided tours of human history as seen through the lens of a single idea ... Ashenburg, for her part, operates within a more literary frame of reference, mining 'The Romance of Flamenca,' Madame de Sevigne's letters, Thackeray's novels and others over the course of a lively account in which we learn that: Napoleon spent two hours in a steaming bathtub every morning while an assistant read him newspapers and telegrams; Louis XIV had halitosis; Caucasians possess merocrine sweat glands 'in profusion,' while Asians have few or none; and Kotex were first manufactured by a Wisconsin company during World War I as absorbent bandages for Army hospitals in France."
Read more about The Dirt on Clean, and visit Katherine Ashenburg's website.

Writers Read: Katherine Ashenburg.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, March 24, 2008

Critic's chart: books on Northern Ireland

George Brock, the Saturday Editor of the (London) Times, has reported from Northern Ireland for the Times and the Observer.

He named six top books on Ulster for the Times. Number One on his list:
Ireland: The Politics of Enmity 1789-2006 by Paul Bew

If you want to understand what has happened, what may yet and why, this is the place to start.
Read about another book to make the chart.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Samantha Hunt's "The Invention of Everything Else"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: Samantha Hunt's The Invention of Everything Else.

About the book, from the publisher:
A wondrous imagining of an unlikely friendship between the eccentric inventor Nikola Tesla and a young chambermaid in the Hotel New Yorker where Tesla lives out his last days

From the moment she first catches sight of the Hotel New Yorker’s most famous resident on New Year’s Day 1943, Louisa -- obsessed with radio dramas and the secret lives of the guests -- is determined to befriend this strange man. As Louisa discovers their shared affinity for pigeons, she also begins to piece together Tesla’s extraordinary story of life as an immigrant, a genius, and a halfhearted capitalist. Meanwhile, Louisa — faced with her father’s imminent departure in a time machine to reunite with his late wife, and pleasantly unsettled by the arrival in her life of a mysterious mechanic (perhaps from the future) named Arthur -- begins to suspect that she has understood something about the relationship of love and invention that Tesla, for all his brilliance, never did.

The Invention of Everything Else luminously resurrects one of the greatest scientists of all time, Nikola Tesla, while magically transporting us -- à la Steven Millhauser and Michael Chabon -- to an early twentieth-century New York City thrumming with energy, wonder, and possibility.
Among the wide acclaim for the novel:
“Hunt weaves history and imagination to create a seductively original world…”
--Heidi Julavits, author of The Uses of Enchantment

"An engaging portrait...and a poignant one of Tesla... There’s much food for thought here and some very beautiful prose."
--Kirkus Reviews

“Hunt (The Seas) delivers a breathtaking novel that is both difficult to classify and impossible to ignore."
--Library Journal

"Hunt's magical new novel is a love letter to one of the world's most remarkable inventors…For a moment…everything seems possible."
--Washington Post

“[Hunt] puts her considerable talents to work…Tesla's story…is crafted with an intensity...that makes the heart beat faster.”
--Los Angeles Times
Read an excerpt from The Invention of Everything Else, and learn more about the book and its author at Samantha Hunt's website.

Samantha Hunt is the author of the acclaimed first novel The Seas, and her short fiction has appeared in The New Yorker and McSweeney’s and on This American Life.

The Page 99 Test: The Invention of Everything Else.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Gayle Brandeis's "Self Storage," the movie

Now showing at My Book, The Movie: Gayle Brandeis's Self Storage.

Brandeis's entry opens:

The day after I received the email asking me to participate in this blog, I received an email from a producer asking if my novel Self Storage had been optioned yet. The timing still makes me smile—it's almost as if the invitation to cast my book ushered in the possibility of a real movie. I know the film world is just as unpredictable and uncertain as the publishing world, if not more so, so who knows if an adaptation will actually come to light, but it's great fun to dream about the potential cast.

The main character of Self Storage is Flan Parker, a young mother who goes to self storage auctions and sells the winnings at yard sales in her family student housing community at the University of California in Riverside. Flan is a searcher, guided by Walt Whitman's "Song of Myself," and a bit of a daydreamer. Her life is forever altered when her path collides with Sodaba's, her Afghan neighbor who wears a full burqa. I promised my friend Dewi Faulkner (doesn't she have the greatest name?) the role of Flan if the book were ever to make it to the screen, but in the event that Dewi is unavailable, I can easily picture a couple of other actors as Flan: Maggie Gyllenhaal would bring a wonderful wistfulness to the role, and Mary Lynn Rajskub would capture both Flan's humor and her frustration. As young mothers themselves (in Mary Lynn Rajskub's case, a young mother-to-be), I think they would connect with Flan's heart. [read on]

Read an excerpt from Self Storage.

Among the early praise for Self Storage:
“A novel of passion and consequence, identity and accountability. I love the narrator, her children, her wild ride, and this truly American story of getting mad and getting wise.”
–Barbara Kingsolver

“If you doubt that a deadly serious thread – also somehow all but laugh-out-loud funny – can connect the pillage of metal storage units, the fierce devotion of family, the rape of human sensibility, and the pursuit of art, read Self Storage by Gayle Brandeis. Or better yet, just take the hand of its greathearted and deeply bewildered heroine, Flan, and hang on for the ride.”
–Jacquelyn Mitchard, author of Cage of Stars
Learn more about Gayle Brandeis and Self Storage at her website, at her blog, or at one of her MySpace pages or the other.

The Page 69 Test: Self Storage.

My Book, The Movie: Self Storage.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: James Morrow's "The Philosopher’s Apprentice"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: James Morrow's The Philosopher’s Apprentice.

About the book, from the publisher:
A brilliant philosopher with a talent for self-destruction, Mason Ambrose has torpedoed a promising academic career and now faces a dead-end future. Before joining the ranks of the unemployed, however, he's approached by a representative of billionaire geneticist Dr. Edwina Sabacthani, who makes him an offer no starving ethicist could refuse. Born and bred on Isla de Sangre, a private island off the Florida coast, Edwina's beautiful and intelligent adolescent daughter, Londa, has recently survived a freak accident that destroyed both her memory and her sense of right and wrong. Londa's soul, in short, is an empty vessel—and it will be Mason's job to fill it.

Exploring his new surroundings, our hero encounters a lush Eden abounding in bizarre animals and strange vegetation engineered by Edwina and her misanthropic collaborator, Dr. Vincent Charnock. And Londa, though totally lacking a conscience, proves a vivacious young woman who quickly captivates her new teacher as he attempts to recalibrate her moral compass with the help of Western civilization's greatest ethical thinkers, living and dead.

But there's trouble in this tropical paradise. Mason soon learns that he isn't the only private tutor on Isla de Sangre, nor is Londa the only child in residence whose conscience is a blank slate. How many daughters does Edwina Sabacthani really have, and how did she bring them into being?

Undaunted by these mysteries, Mason continues to instruct Londa, hoping that she can lead a normal life when she eventually ventures forth into human society. His apprentice, however, has a different agenda. Her head crammed with lofty ideals, her heart brimming with fearsome benevolence, and her bank account filled to bursting, Londa undertakes to remake our fallen world in her own image — by any and all means necessary.
Among the early praise for The Philosopher’s Apprentice:
"With a talking iguana, a tree with a heart and an army of clones created from aborted fetuses, Morrow's latest is a treat for readers willing to take an imaginative leap ... Strong characters, shots of humor and an unpredictable narrative make this a winner."
--Publishers Weekly

"Arch-satirist Morrow ... turns in a tumultuous take on humanity, philosophy and ethics that is as hilarious as it is outlandish ... Hurtling towards his destiny aboard a resurrected Titanic, Mason must choose between consummation and annihilation of his first love. “Try withholding your judgment till you’ve grasped the broader picture,” Londa advises him. A salutary caution for readers of this wildly ambitious morality play, a shrewd amalgamation of the sacred and the profane ... Tips its hat with style to Mary Shelley and George Bernard Shaw."
--Kirkus Reviews

"Aristotle is referred to so often in this brilliant comedy of manners as to seem to be alive. Also present are Plato, Lawrence Kohlberg, Kant, Sartre, Heidegger, Gadamer, Rawls, Piaget, Captain Kangaroo, and Mister Rogers. How can a novel so loaded with ideas be so funny and consistently engrossing? ... The premise is not new: a philosopher-tutor is given the opportunity to impress ethical ideas on a first-class mind that is, in matters of morality, a blank slate. But Morrow (The Last Witchfinder) is an inventive writer possessing a fine comic sensibility; the story is infused with wit and brio. And that brings one more name into the mix—Diderot. Morrow may not mention Diderot, but in many ways Morrow is a successor to that finest of Enlightenment thinkers, a man who believed that literature and philosophy marched hand in hand and who was not afraid to discuss serious matters in a comic tone."
--Library Journal (starred review)

"Morrow is a good as anybody at dramatizing the notion that ideas can both kill us and save us, and The Philosopher’s Apprentice may well offer about as many provocative ideas per chapter as we’ll see in any novel this year."
--Gary K. Wolfe, Locus

"Morrow’s world is one where ideas matter so much they come lurching to life as intellectual Frankenstein creatures. In The Philosopher’s Apprentice, they are wickedly hilarious – and then they can break our hearts and scare us silly."
--Denver Post

"Morrow addresses controversial topics without being heavy-handed and infuses the narrative with a wit that pragmatists and idealists alike will appreciate."
--Entertainment Weekly
Read an excerpt from The Philosopher's Apprentice, and learn more about the author and his work at James Morrow's website and his blog.

The Page 69 Test: The Philosopher’s Apprentice.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five best: books about chess

Gabriel Schoenfeld, the managing editor of Commentary and a chess columnist for the New York Sun, named a five best list of books about chess for the Wall Street Journal.

One book on the list:
Tal-Botvinnik, 1960
By Mikhail Tal
Russell Enterprises, 1970

How exactly do grandmasters think? Mikhail Tal's account of his struggle for the world championship title nearly a half-century ago is not merely an analysis of 21 thrilling games. It is an intimate view of the chessboard fantasies of a supreme tactical genius. Tal (1936-92) was pitted against Mikhail Botvinnik (1911-95), the world's foremost "scientific" player, the defending title-holder and the dean of the Soviet school of chess. In the resulting clash of styles, Tal prevailed by a convincing margin. His victory was a vindication of unfettered imagination and a demonstration that chess can be scientific only in the way that Soviet socialism was scientific, which is to say not at all.
Read about another title on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, March 22, 2008

What is Nathaniel Rich reading?

The latest contributor to Writers Read: Nathaniel Rich, senior editor at The Paris Review and author of the soon-to-be released novel, The Mayor's Tongue.

His entry opens:
A friend just sent me Joseph Moncure March’s 1928 prose poem, The Wild Party, which tells the story of a bunch of floozies and broken-nosed wiseguys who get together for a drunken orgy. The book was banned at the time of its publication, but reclaimed from obscurity by Art Spiegelman, who illustrated a new edition that Pantheon published in 1999. (Spiegelman seems to have particularly relished the chance to draw the character of Queenie, a sexed-up blond vaudeville dancer who appears naked, in numerous poses, throughout the book). March’s schoolboy rhymes give the sordid subject matter a strangely pleasant menace.... [read on]
Colum McCann, author of Zoli and This Side of Brightness, wrote of Rich's debut novel: "The Mayor's Tongue reminds me of Peter Carey's early work-the highest possible praise. It presents a young writer of deep ambition and imagination working with a kind of unnerving maturity. It's clear from the very first pages that Nathaniel Rich can really write, and he proceeds to unfurl a fascinating möbius strip of a novel, its dual narratives swerving and twisting until they've come together in a way that seems all at once impossible and endlessly elegant."

Read more about
The Mayor's Tongue at Nathaniel Rich's website.

Rich has published essays and criticism in The New York Review of Books, Vanity Fair, The New York Times Book Review, The Los Angeles Times Book Review, The Nation, The New Republic, and Slate.

Writers Read: Nathaniel Rich.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Greg Mitchell's "So Wrong for So Long"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: Greg Mitchell's So Wrong for So Long: How the Press, the Pundits--And the President--Failed on Iraq.

About the book, from the publisher:
In early 2003, Greg Mitchell was one of the few mainstream journalists to seriously question the stated reasons for invading Iraq. In the years since, he has repeatedly challenged the media to probe the conduct of the war and its toll on our troops. Now, after five years of war, he traces the conflict -- from the “runup” to the “surge” -- and the media’s coverage of it, in this important collection of commentaries with significant new additions: an original introduction and dozens of pages of fresh material that unify the essays.

If a free press is the watchdog of democracy, then Greg Mitchell must be the watchdog of the watchdogs, tracking the performance of the media at Editor & Publisher, the influential magazine of the newspaper industry. Over the past five years, in his widely read column, “Pressing Issues,” he has repeatedly been ahead of the curve in intensely scrutinizing both the president and the press—and the controversies swirling around Donald Rumsfeld, Pat Tillman, “Scooter” Libby, Ann Coulter and numerous other figures.

His book is a unique history of the entire war—and as topical as today’s headlines. Whether writing early warnings that anticipated a long and bloody war, analyzing Stephen Colbert’s in-his-face mockery of George W. Bush, or imagining the president confessing his sins to Oprah Winfrey, Greg Mitchell explores how we got into the war in Iraq—and why we just can’t seem to get out. With tens of thousands of American troops still in Iraq, debate over the war continues to rage on TV news and across editorial pages. Against this backdrop of controversy, Greg Mitchell is the rare journalist who has seen it all with clear eyes. In So Wrong for So Long, he can finally tell the whole story.
Among the early praise for the book:
“The profound failure of the American press with regard to the Iraq War may very well be the most significant political story of this generation. Greg Mitchell has established himself as one of our country's most perceptive media critics, and here he provides invaluable insight into how massive journalistic failures enabled the greatest strategic disaster in the nation's history.”
—Glenn Greenwald, columnist and author of A Tragic Legacy and How Would a Patriot Act?

"Greg Mitchell has given us a razor-sharp critique of how the media and the government connived in one of the great blunders of American foreign policy. Every aspiring journalist, every veteran, every pundit—and every citizen who cares about the difference between illusion and reality, propaganda and the truth, and looks to the press to help keep them separate—should read this book. Twice."
—Bill Moyers

"With the tragic war in Iraq dragging on, and the drumbeat for new conflicts growing louder, this is more than a five-year history of the biggest foreign policy debacle of our times—it's a cautionary tale that is as relevant as this morning's headlines. Greg Mitchell makes it clear that Iraq is a case study in bad judgment, from the misguided moves of an administration blinded by its zealotry to a complacent media that too often acted as an extension of the White House press office. Read it and weep; read it and get enraged; read it and make sure it doesn't happen again."
—Arianna Huffington

"[W]orthy of shelving alongside the best of the Iraq books to date."

"Mitchell is a gift to his profession, and these columns are rich, rich reads. As an account of the failures of most journalists, it’s damning. A few shine throughout the years, Knight-Ridder’s Washington Bureau probably the most. But Mitchell isn’t just covering the press covering the administration and the war; there is real original thought and reporting going on in these columns as well, as he will often seek out the story behind the story—the parent behind the flag-draped coffin, for example. As a record of the times, this volume is a real gem of a reference book as well. The introductions to the columns each month are among the best quick sketches of the order of events I’ve run across. But more than that, despite the sorry performance of the press throughout the 21st century, there is a glimmer of hope that writers such as Mitchell and those he highlights continue to work in the media. This is a record, in many ways, of a shameful time when the national media drastically failed the American people. But it’s also a record of the few voices who objected, who reported and who tried to keep the truth in the forefront."

Read an excerpt from So Wrong for So Long at Salon, and learn more about Greg Mitchell at his blog.

Greg Mitchell is the editor of Editor & Publisher, the journal of the newspaper business which has won several major awards for its coverage of Iraq and the media. His books include Hiroshima in America (with Robert Jay Lifton) and The Campaign of the Century: Upton Sinclair's Race for Governor of California and the Birth of Media Politics, and his articles have appeared in dozens of leading newspapers and magazines.

The Page 99 Test: So Wrong for So Long.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, March 21, 2008

Pg. 69: Mario Acevedo's "The Undead Kama Sutra"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: Mario Acevedo's The Undead Kama Sutra.

About the book, from the publisher:
Felix Gomez returned from the war in Iraq a changed man — once a soldier, now forever a vampire. So the undead underworld put his skills to work as a private detective, specializing in the sordid, the sexy, and the supernatural.

After surviving aliens, nymphomaniacs, and x-rated bloodsuckers, it's high time for a vacation. Now the aliens are back in a fiendish conspiracy with the U.S. government, and only Felix stands between them and the Earth women they covet. But when an army hit man attacks Felix and the bodacious vampire sexpert, Carmen, not even the astonishing erotic powers of the Kama Sutra for the Undead may be able to save them.
Among the early praise for the novel:
"Vampire P.I. Felix Gomez is irresistibly entertaining."
--Rick Riordan, Edgar Award winning author of Mission Road

"Latino vampire detective Felix Gomez slips back into action in this third installment of Mario Acevedo's paperback original series. The Undead Kama Sutra is a tightly fitting sequel to The Nymphos of Rocky Flats and X-Rated Bloodsuckers. For this case, Gomez will need more than sharp fangs and inbred savvy. Only one thing can protect against a savage attack by an army hit man: The erotic powers of the undead Kama Sutra need to be unleashed!"
--Barnes & Noble

"Fast plots, strange occurrences, and conspiracy theories are par for the course with any Acevedo title, when you combine that with his twisted sense of humor, you end up with a pretty great paranormal PI series that I highly recommend."
--Becky Lejeune, BookBitch
Read an excerpt from The Undead Kama Sutra and learn more about the author and his work at Mario Acevedo's website and his blog.

View the book trailer for the Felix Gomez series.

Mario Acevedo is the author of two previous books in the Felix Gomez series, The Nymphos of Rocky Flats and X-Rated Blood Suckers.

The Page 69 Test: The Nymphos of Rocky Flats.

The Page 69 Test: The Undead Kama Sutra.

--Marshal Zeringue

Best last lines from novels

American Book Review picked the 100 best last lines from novels. Numbers 6 through 10 on the list:
6. “Yes,” I said. “Isn’t it pretty to think so?” –Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises (1926)

7. He loved Big Brother. –George Orwell, 1984 (1949)

8. ‘It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.’ –Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities (1859)

9. The offing was barred by a black bank of clouds, and the tranquil waterway leading to the uttermost ends of the earth flowed sombre under an overcast sky—seemed to lead into the heart of an immense darkness. –Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness (1902)

10. Yes, she thought, laying down her brush in extreme fatigue, I have had my vision. –Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse (1927)
Read the top 5 on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Tony Robbins reading?

Self-help writer and professional speaker Tony Robbins talked to the Christian Science Monitor about what he has been listening to and watching. And reading:
I'm always reading six or seven books simultaneously and dipping in and out of them. So, in the last couple of weeks I've been reading everything from Louise Richardson's What Terrorists Want: Understanding the Enemy, Containing the Threat, to Integral Spirituality: A Startling New Role for Religion in the Modern and Postmodern World by Ken Wilbur. I am rereading, for the second time, The Singularity Is Near by Ray Kurzweil. I am in the midst of A Life Decoded: My Genome: My Life by J. Craig Venter, whom I had the privilege of meeting recently.
Read more about what Tony Robbins has been listening to and watching.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Pg. 99: Matthew Connelly's "Fatal Misconception"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: Matthew Connelly's Fatal Misconception: The Struggle to Control World Population.

About the book, from the publisher:

Fatal Misconception is the disturbing story of our quest to remake humanity by policing national borders and breeding better people. As the population of the world doubled once, and then again, well-meaning people concluded that only population control could preserve the "quality of life." This movement eventually spanned the globe and carried out a series of astonishing experiments, from banning Asian immigration to paying poor people to be sterilized.

Supported by affluent countries, foundations, and non-governmental organizations, the population control movement experimented with ways to limit population growth. But it had to contend with the Catholic Church's ban on contraception and nationalist leaders who warned of "race suicide." The ensuing struggle caused untold suffering for those caught in the middle--particularly women and children. It culminated in the horrors of sterilization camps in India and the one-child policy in China.

Matthew Connelly offers the first global history of a movement that changed how people regard their children and ultimately the face of humankind. It was the most ambitious social engineering project of the twentieth century, one that continues to alarm the global community. Though promoted as a way to lift people out of poverty--perhaps even to save the earth--family planning became a means to plan other people's families.

With its transnational scope and exhaustive research into such archives as Planned Parenthood and the newly opened Vatican Secret Archives, Connelly's withering critique uncovers the cost inflicted by a humanitarian movement gone terribly awry and urges renewed commitment to the reproductive rights of all people.
Among the early acclaim for the book:

"Passionate and troubling...Connelly tells the story of the 20th-century international movement to control population, which he sees as an oppressive movement that failed to deliver the promised economic and environmental results...Ambitious, exhaustively researched and clearly written, this is a highly important book."
--Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"This is history written from the heart. The story it tells is of misplaced benevolence at best and biological totalitarianism at worst. Deeply researched and elegantly written, it is a disturbing, angry, combative, and important book, one which raises issues we ignore at our peril."
--Jay Winter, Yale University

"Matthew Connelly bravely and eloquently explores the dark underside of world population policies. It is a clarion call to respect individuals' freedom to make their own reproductive choices."
--William Easterly, author of The White Man's Burden: Why the West's Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good

"One of the most gifted historians of his generation has given us an exciting and thought-provoking new way to understand the making of the ever-globalizing world of today."
--Akira Iriye, author of Global Community: The Role of International Organizations in the Making of the Contemporary World

"Connelly raises the most profound political, social, and moral questions. His history reveals that the difference between population control and birth control is indeed that between coercion and choice."
--Mahmood Mamdani, author of Good Muslim, Bad Muslim: America, the Cold War, and the Roots of Terror

Read an excerpt from Fatal Misconception and learn more about the book at the Harvard University Press website.

Matthew Connelly is an associate professor of history at Columbia University. His other publications include A Diplomatic Revolution: Algeria’s Fight for Independence and the Origins of the Post-Cold War Era (2002) and research articles in Comparative Studies in Society and History, The International Journal of Middle East Studies, The American Historical Review, The Review française d’histoire d’Outre-mer, and Past & Present. He has also published commentary on international affairs in The Atlantic Monthly and The National Interest.

Visit Matthew Connelly's website.

The Page 99 Test: Fatal Misconception.

--Marshal Zeringue