The Road to Little Dribbling by Bill Bryson

The Road to Little Dribbling by Bill Bryson

Bryson’s at it again. Traipsing around Britain. Cracking wise, offending, lauding, kvetching…and making us laugh out loud.  He’s done this before way back in 1995 as a newcomer to Great Britain and diehard Anglophile. In Notes from a Small Island, launched just a bit before he hit it big with his later books, Bryson began […]


The Case Against Academic Boycotts of Israel by  Cary Nelson and Gabriel Noah Brahm, eds.

The Case Against Academic Boycotts of Israel by Cary Nelson and Gabriel Noah Brahm, eds.

Should defenders of Palestinian Arab rights boycott Israeli universities and instructors?  Is this an appropriate intellectual weapon?  And does the “BDS” movement [Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions] aim principally to improve Israeli policies?  The authors of the thirty essays in this collection argue that the answers are No, and are linked by antisemitism.  The initial arguments are […]


The Math Myth by Andrew Hacker

The Math Myth by Andrew Hacker

Building on his 2012 New York Times article, journalist Hacker questions some of the oft-repeated jeremiads about contemporary math education: Americans are falling behind economically and strategically because of poor math skills, companies can’t find enough skilled workers due to poor math skills, the next generation is lacking in critical thinking and reasoning due to […]


Augustine’s Confessions: A Biography by Garry Wills

Augustine’s Confessions: A Biography by Garry Wills

There’s much to say about Confessions, Augustine’s great work of self-study composed as a 13-volume soliloquy to God. Wills manages to say plenty in just 148 pages in this contribution to the “Lives of Great Religious Books” series (from Princeton University Press). We get not only a close reading, but also the inside story of […]


To Mary and English Lord: Or, How Anglomania Really Got Started

To Mary and English Lord: Or, How Anglomania Really Got Started

In Edith Wharton’s novel The Buccaneers, we meet a group of young American heiresses, daughters of wealthy and powerful men (but, alas, of families deemed a bit socially declassé by New York’s entrenched 400 in the late 1800s in America) who swoop down like a fleet of pirates on British soil to marry the sons […]


Typewriter by Tony Allan

Typewriter by Tony Allan

I loved my IBM Selectric. It was my daily companion for almost 15 years when I was on the advertising staff of the Montgomery Ward Catalog (ancient, pre-Amazon retailing device). It had a distinctive sound and feel, and the a ribbon cartridge that was the devil to change. This book caught my eye because I […]


The Jewish State by Theodor Herzl

The Jewish State by Theodor Herzl

At age thirty-five, nine years before he died in his native Austro-Hungary, Theodor Herzl published this nationalist manifesto. Though he judged his own arguments “ancient,” the book generated immediate acclaim and controversy.  His last decade was spent traveling from capital to capital to build support. Arguing that Jews possessed a nationality, and that they could […]


The Great Lakes Water Wars by Peter Annin

The Great Lakes Water Wars by Peter Annin

(The unfolding debacle in Flint, Michigan has tragically put tap water in the national news. Michigan officials from the governor on down failed to safeguard the water supply, poisoning thousands of Flint residents. The impact will be long-term: one contaminant was lead, which damages the body over the course of years. Books about the Flint fiasco […]