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In 'Purity,' Jonathan Franzen chronicles the pain of growing up

Books / Books News /

"Purity: A Novel" by Jonathan Franzen; Farrar, Straus and Giroux (576 pages, $28)

Purity Tyler -- heroine of the latest novel confirming that Jonathan Franzen is among this country's best living writers -- goes by the nickname Pip. It's a nod to the hero of Dickens' "Great Expectations" -- a novel that, like "Purity" itself, explores how we ...Read more

'She's Not There' a captivating mystery; sequel required

Books / Books News /

"She's Not There" by P.J. Parrish; Thomas & Mercer (382 pages, $15.95)

Identity issues are among the driving force of the mystery genre as characters grapple with who they are and how events shape their persona. In P.J. Parrish's captivating "She's Not There," a young woman wrestles not only with her identity -- in this case exacerbated by ...Read more

'A Settler's Year' re-creates world of Wisconsin's 19th century pioneers

Books / Books News /

"A Settler's Year: Pioneer Life Through the Seasons" by Kathleen Ernst, photos by Loyd Heath; Wisconsin Historical Society Press (200 pages, $29.95)

"A Settler's Year" removes the sepia filter from our view of the past and allows us to see and imagine Wisconsin's 19th century settlers as warm-blooded people like ourselves.

Loyd Heath ...Read more

Review: 'Billion-Dollar Ball,' by Gilbert M. Gaul; big money in college football

Books / Books News /

"Billion-Dollar Ball" by Gilbert M. Gaul; Viking (249 pages, $27.95)

Almost nobody is spared in Gilbert M. Gaul's latest book, "Billion-Dollar Ball," an examination of the money behind college football programs.

Texas, Oregon, Alabama, Notre Dame and many others take their hits. Gaul does admire Mount Union, a Division III power in Ohio, in a ...Read more

'The Influence Machine': The long arm of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Books / Books News /

"The Influence Machine: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Corporate Capture of American Life" by Alyssa Katz; Spiegel & Grau (336 pages, $28)

In American politics, the influence of companies and business interests weighs heavily. That's a problem. An even bigger problem is that certain players in these arenas exert an outsized role in ...Read more

SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY

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Reviewed by Nancy Hightower

China Mieville expertly mixes science fiction, fantasy and surrealism in his latest short story collection,"Three Moments of an Explosion" (Del Rey, $27). For Mieville,...Read more

THE GENERAL IN THE GARDEN: George Washington's Landscape at Mount Vernon

Edited by Susan P Schoelwer
Mount Vernon Ladies' Association
ISBN 978-0931917486
190 pages
$39.95

Reviewed by Dennis Drabelle

According to Andrea Wulf in her foreword to this richly illustrated book of essays, George ...Read more

SONIC WIND: The Story of John Paul Stapp and How a Renegade Doctor Became the Fastest Man on Earth

Craig Ryan
Liveright
ISBN 978-0871406774
411 pages
$27.95

Reviewed by Emily Anthes

Shortly after noon on Dec. 10, 1954, the sun finally broke through the clouds at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico, and the countdown ...Read more

DREAMS TO REMEMBER: Otis Redding, Stax Records, and the Transformation of Southern Soul

Mark Ribowsky
W.W. Norton
ISBN 978-0871408730
365 pages
$27.95

Reviewed by Dave Shiflett

Otis Redding's burst of fame was short but eventful. He shared the stage with Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin and drew the Beatles and ...Read more

SECONDHAND SOULS

Christopher Moore
William Morrow
ISBN 978-0061779787
335 pages
$26.99

Reviewed by John Wilwol

"Have fun with writing," Christopher Moore once said. "Be as silly and as off the wall as you want to be." Great advice - writing...Read more

LOSING THE SIGNAL: The Untold Story Behind the Extraordinary Rise and Spectacular Fall of BlackBerry

Jacquie McNish and Sean Silcoff
Flatiron
ISBN 978-1250060174
279 pages
$27.99

Reviewed by Hank H. Cox

I was a perfectly content Washington, D.C., flack until one day someone thrust a BlackBerry into my hand. I soon became ...Read more

HAIL TO THE REDSKINS: Gibbs, the Diesel, the Hogs, and the Glory Days of D.C.'s Football Dynasty

Adam Lazarus
Morrow
ISBN 978-0062375735
367 pages
$26.99

Reviewed by John Taylor

As another NFL season approaches and the buzz around this region's most important professional sports franchise hits its late-summer fever ...Read more

SISTERS IN LAW: How Sandra Day O'Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg Went to the Supreme Court and Changed the World

Linda Hirshman
Harper
ISBN 978-0062238467
390 pages
$28.99

Reviewed by Cary Franklin

When the Supreme Court held in June that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry, the moment must have been doubly sweet for...Read more

KISSINGER'S SHADOW: The Long Reach of America's Most Controversial Statesman

Greg Grandin
Metropolitan
ISBN 978-1627794497
270 pages
$28

Reviewed by Evan Thomas

Henry Kissinger has not held high government office since 1977, almost 40 years ago. True, he accomplished a great deal during his eight ...Read more

THE LAST LOVE SONG: A Biography of Joan Didion

Tracy Daugherty
St. Martin's
ISBN 978-1250010025
728 pages
$35

Reviewed by Josh Roiland

On a June afternoon in 1982, Joan Didion strolled through San Salvador's Metrocenter Mall in search of water-purification tablets. The ...Read more

EVERYBODY RISE

Stephanie Clifford
St. Martin's
ISBN 978-1250077172
376 pages
$26.99

Reviewed by Bethanne Patrick

Little is more delicious than watching an ambitious but tragically flawed protagonist brought down - especially in a designer...Read more

Captain Comics: 'Fear the Walking Dead' leaves questions behind

Books / Comic Books /

After weeks of hoopla, "Fear the Walking Dead" has arrived. In many ways, though, the Aug, 23 premiere gave us as many questions as answers. Let's separate the true from the probably-not-true from the definitely-not-true-because-I'm-making-it-up:

Q. How long will "Fear the Walking Dead" run? "The Walking Dead" returns Oct. 11 and will want ...Read more

THE EXCHANGE OF PRINCESSES

Chantal Thomas. Translated from the French by John Cullen
Other
ISBN 978-1590517024
352 pages
$16.95

Reviewed by Diana Gabaldon, who is the author of the Outlander novels, which are the basis for the TV series on the Starz network....Read more

THE TALE OF GENJI

Murasaki Shikibu. Translated from Japanese by Dennis Washburn
Norton
ISBN 978-0393047875
1,320 pages
$49.95

Reviewed by Steven Moore, who is the author of "The Novel: An Alternative History."

There is no question that "The ...Read more

BLACK-EYED SUSANS

Julia Heaberlin
Ballantine
ISBN 978-0-8041-7799-3
354 pages
$26

Reviewed by Patrick Anderson, who reviews mysteries and thrillers regularly for The Washington Post's Book World.

It's 1995. Tessie Cartwright, 16, healthy, ...Read more