Summer preview: Hot new books will transport readers

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Traveling with a new book is wonderful. But traveling through a book provides passage over time and space (and it's easier on the budget and gas tank).

This summer's titles will take readers to 18th century Canada, 19th century Africa or 100 years in the future, when survivors of an apocalypse try to build a new civilization.

In Annie Proulx's...Read more

'Dark Territory: The Secret History of Cyber War': The worldwide war of keystrokes

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"Dark Territory: The Secret History of Cyber War" by Fred Kaplan; Simon & Schuster (352 pages, $28)

You've heard the complaining, from the White House on down, about the cyberattacks on our country. Well, yes, you guessed it: We started it.

That's one of the central thrusts of Fred Kaplan's "Dark Territory: The Secret History of Cyber War." ...Read more

'Welcome Thieves': young, lost and flirting with destruction

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"Welcome Thieves" by Sean Beaudoin; Algonquin (304 pages, $15.95)

"Comedy Hour," one of the 12 short stories in Seattle author Sean Beaudoin's story collection "Welcome Thieves," begins with this confession by the narrator:

"I am the point guard, best player, and team captain.

"Which means we suck."

That opener gives a taste of what readers ...Read more

In some cases, American military courts broke new ground in fairness

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"Court-Martial: How Military Justice Has Shaped America from the Revolution to 9/11 and Beyond" by Chris Bray; W.W. Norton (416 pages)

Late on July 6, 1944, Army Lt. Jack Robinson boarded a bus at a Texas Army post. The white driver ordered Robinson to move to the back of the bus. When he refused, he was removed from the bus by military police....Read more

Chris Cleave's World War II saga touches on love, life, death

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"Everyone Brave is Forgiven" by Chris Cleave; Simon & Schuster (432 pages, $26)

The characters in Chris Cleave's novels are well acquainted with suffering. The grieving widow in "Incendiary" who lost her husband and child to a terrorist's bomb, the two women in "Little Bee" (one a Nigerian orphan, the other an unfaithful British wife) bound by ...Read more

World War II's endgame was also a beginning for Samuel Beckett

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"A Country Road, A Tree: A Novel" by Jo Baker; Knopf (304 pages, $26.95)

When war came to Europe in 1939, Samuel Beckett was a published but largely unknown and unread Irish writer working in the long shadow of James Joyce, for whom he'd served as a literary secretary in Paris while the great man was writing "Finnegans Wake."

By war's end six ...Read more

'The Gene' captures scientific method in all its fumbling glory

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"The Gene: An Intimate History" by Siddhartha Mukherjee; Scribner (592 pages, $30)

"Like Pythagoras's triangle, like the cave paintings at Lascaux, like the Pyramids in Giza, like the image of a fragile blue planet seen from outer space, the double helix of DNA is an iconic image, etched permanently into human history and memory," Siddhartha ...Read more

Review: 'The Big Marsh' by Cheri Register

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"The Big Marsh" by Cheri Register; Minnesota Historical Society Press (271 pages, $17.95)

Minnesotans' appreciation for wetlands as an important wildlife habitat has come nearly full circle. To Indians and the first white settlers, the adjoining slough and lake that once sprawled across the northeast corner of southern Minnesota's Freeborn ...Read more

Review: 'The Kennedy Wives' by Amber Hunt and David Batcher

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"The Kennedy Wives: Triumph and Tragedy in America's Most Public Family" by Amber Hunt and David Batcher; Lyons Press (352 pages, $16.95)

As the 20th century fades into memory, so does the Kennedy family. The children of Jack, Bobby and Teddy are old enough now to be grandparents themselves, and although a number of them followed their fathers ...Read more

Good, evil tussle in vivid thriller

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"Redemption Road" by John Hart; Thomas Dunne Books (432 pages, $27.99)

John Hart's books should be packaged with instant cocoa and a CD of Hart singing soothing lullabies. It's only fair that after planting images in your brain that jolt you awake in the night, he should help you get back to sleep.

Hart is far from the only writer dipping into...Read more

Julian Barnes' 'The Noise of Time' portrays troubled Shostakovich

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"The Noise of Time: A Novel" by Julian Barnes; Knopf (224 pages, $25.95)

In Julian Barnes' novel "The Noise of Time," Dmitri Shostakovich considers the two types of composers in the Soviet Union: dead ones, and frightened ones.

Call Shostakovich one of the frightened ones. His music is played around the world, but he also stands by the ...Read more

Desperation, sublimation and loss are seasoned with irony and humor in 'LaRose'

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"LaRose" by Louise Erdrich; Harper (384 pages, $27.99)

Romeo Puyat, antihero and scourge of Louise Erdrich's new novel "LaRose," is a cursed man. Addicted to prescription drugs and anything else he can get his hands on, he lives in the shadows. Decades of ridicule and abuse run through his veins and fuel the rage that drives this story to its ...Read more

Matt Haig offers people with depression 'Reasons to Stay Alive'

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"Reasons to Stay Alive" by Matt Haig; Penguin (272 pages, $15)

Matt Haig suffered months of depression and anxiety so crippling that he stood on the edge of a cliff, trying to summon the wherewithal to throw himself off.

"The weird thing about depression," Haig writes in "Reasons to Stay Alive," is "the fear of death remains the same. The only...Read more

'Paul McCartney: The Life' offers thorough account of ex-Beatle

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"Paul McCartney: The Life" by Philip Norman; Little, Brown (853 pages, $32)

Behind the double thumbs-up, impish smile and round, half-moon eyes lies a Paul McCartney more complex than public perception lends itself to.

As biographer Philip Norman writes in "Paul McCartney: The Life," McCartney is more than just the "cute Beatle" thumping away ...Read more

Review: 'The Geography of Madness: Penis Thieves, Voodoo Death and the Search for the Meaning of the World's Strangest Syndromes,' by Frank Bures

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"The Geography of Madness" by Frank Bures; Melville House (241 pages, $25.95)

If ever my penis were stolen, I'd want Frank Bures to hunt for it.

Bures, a Minneapolis-based travel writer, turns in a reportorial tour de force in this examination of culture, belief and madness.

He roams the remote reaches of China, faces teenage gangsters in ...Read more

Review: 'A Few of the Girls' by Maeve Binchy

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"A Few of the Girls" by Maeve Binchy; Alfred A. Knopf (319 pages, $26.95)

Irish writer Maeve Binchy's gift was to create, sometimes in just a few brisk sentences, ordinary-people characters who quickly endear themselves to the reader. Often they're about to stumble upon an experience that will change their outlook on life in some way. A short ...Read more

Thriller review: 'The Art of Murder'

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"The Art of Murder" by Elaine Viets; Obsidian (304 pages, $25)

Fort Lauderdale, Fla.'s Bonnet House Museum and Gardens makes a lively backdrop for Elaine Viets' 15th highly entertaining "Dead-End Job" series featuring private investigator Helen Hawthorne.

While taking a tour of the Bonnet House, Helen and her friend and landlady, Margery Flax,...Read more

Review: 'Down the Darkest Street' by Alex Segura

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"Down the Darkest Street" by Alex Segura; Polis (320 pages, $24.95)

A character's redemption -- and how he pulls himself out of the lowest depths of his life -- infuses Miami native and former journalist Alex Segura's second novel.

And Pete Fernandez has failed at just about everything. He's been fired from his job as a copy editor for the ...Read more

'The Arm' by Jeff Passan explores why pitching is all out of joint

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"The Arm" by Jeff Passan; Harper (357 pages, $27)

The numbers are staggering.

Major League Baseball spends more than $1.5 billion annually on salaries for pitchers. That is five times more than the combined salaries of all the starting quarterbacks in the NFL. There are six pitchers who will be earning more than $30 million for one season's ...Read more

Don Delillo thoughtfully explores death and cryonics in 'Zero K'

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"Zero K" by Don Delillo; Scribner (288 pages, $27)

In Don Delillo's new novel, "Zero K," words have come unattached from the things they mean. The title indicates the temperature zero Kelvin, best known as absolute zero. But in the story, Zero K is an elite level of cryogenics, and even the scientists who work there admit it's not actually part...Read more

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