Al Capone bio suffers from acceptance of relatives' stories as fact

Books / Books News /

"Capone" by Deirdre Bair; Nan A. Talese/Doubleday (395 pages, $30)

Go into any souvenir store on a touristy Chicago street and behold the man: Al Capone. His visage will adorn T-shirts, refrigerator magnets, coffee cups and countless tacky tchotchkes people buy to commemorate their visit to the city where the world's most famous gangster made ...Read more

'The Trespasser' by Tana French: Irish eyes are crying

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"The Trespasser" by Tana French; Viking (464 pages, $27)

It is both a virtue and a liability of Tana French's Dublin Murder Squad novels that the author spins a panoramic narration replete with vivid, individualistic characters, while creating a sense of place that feels like a visit to the gritty, unrelenting underside of Ireland. The upside ...Read more

In Lethem's latest, a gambler gets gammoned

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"A Gambler's Anatomy" by Jonathan Lethem; Doubleday (304 pages, $27.95)

To riff on "A Gambler's Anatomy," the title of Jonathan Lethem's 10th novel, 48-year-old Alexander Bruno can be dissected and summarized in three quick moves.

First, he's avoided Berkeley -- scene of his childhood and home to yet another of Lethem's lost or missing mothers...Read more

Jean Kennedy Smith writes of her childhood in the famous political family

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"The Nine of Us" by Jean Kennedy Smith; Harper (272 pages, $29.99)

Jean Kennedy Smith takes comfort in memory in her new book, "The Nine of Us: Growing Up Kennedy." Now 88, the last of her parents' children alive, the former ambassador to Ireland is entitled to tell the story of her storied family any way she likes. After all, she was there.

...Read more

Joel McHale: 'Almost everything is good about being a celebrity'

Books / Books News /

People send you stuff when you're famous. Stuff you can well afford, because you're famous. But that kind of logic doesn't work in Hollywood.

That's how Joel McHale found himself with a cooler full of bacon. A stool for squatting over the toilet. A free car for a year. And lots of watches.

"It's ridiculous," McHale said the other day from Los ...Read more

'Me Before You' author is back with her favorite subjects: Romance, laughter, escape

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"Paris for One & Other Stories" by Jojo Moyes; Pamela Dorman Books (170 pages, $25)

Jojo Moyes' novels are funny and romantic, but their real subject matter, the undercurrent bobbing beneath the jokes and the meet-cutes, is slightly more consequential. In such books as "Me Before You," its sequel "After You," and "One Plus One," Moyes is also ...Read more

'Scream': Tama Janowitz's memoir of 'Glamour and Dysfunction'

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"Scream: A Memoir of Glamour and Dysfunction" by Tama Janowitz; Dey Street Books (304 pages, $25.99)

When author Tama Janowitz was 15 years old, her pothead father suggested she enter a wet T-shirt contest if she couldn't find a summer job. As one of New York City's "It-Girl" writers in the 1980s, she rubbed elbows with the likes of Andy Warhol...Read more

New biography explores the real-life Victorian horror behind Bram Stoker's 'Dracula'

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"Something in the Blood: The Untold Story of Bram Stoker, The Man Who Wrote "Dracula'" by David J. Skal; Liveright (652 pages, $35)

Several years ago, I read the book "Dracula" for the first time, expecting that Bram Stoker's 19th century fable of blood, lust and the undead would be a quaint echo of Dracula's many screen incarnations. I was ...Read more

'Seduced' showcases Florida beauty, quiet detective story

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"Seduced" by Randy Wayne White; Putnam (352 pages, $27)

Randy Wayne White's series about Marion "Doc" Ford is known for rip-roaring action while the Gulf Coast author takes a quieter route in his novels about Hannah Smith, a Gulf Coast fishing guide and private detective.

Quieter, yes, but Hannah, making her fourth appearance in "Seduced," ...Read more

What happened when Nadia got pregnant?

Books / Books News /

"The Mothers" by Brit Bennett; Riverhead (278 pages, $26)

The Mothers of Upper Room Chapel are worried about the future: "Anyone knows a church is only as good as its women, and when we all passed on to glory, who would hold this church up?" they demand, gazing with disapproval at the teenagers in their small Southern California congregation. ...Read more

MacArthur and Truman face off in H.W. Brands' new history

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"The General vs. the President: MacArthur and Truman at the Brink of Nuclear War" by H.W. Brands; Doubleday (448 pages, $30)

WASHINGTON -- After nearly seven decades, it is easy to forget the fierce, frantic terrors of the early Cold War.

Despite victory in World War II, America had lost its nuclear monopoly because of Soviet spies, was ...Read more

Behind the screams: 'Ghostland' an engrossing look at history of haunted places

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"Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places" by Colin Dickey; Viking (320 pages, $27)

Should you be troubled by things that go bump in the night, do not settle in for a bedtime read with Colin Dickey's engrossing "Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places." Then again, maybe you should: Dickey's book is not so much about spooks and...Read more

A stranger-than-fiction tale of a murder conspiracy, among posh Brits

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"A Very English Scandal: Sex, Lies and a Murder Plot at the Heart of the Establishment" by John Preston; Other Press (352 pages, $27.95)

Suppose you had a secret. A secret that would cost you your career, your friends and your place in a very stratified society. The list of things you shouldn't do is pretty basic: don't put anything on paper, ...Read more

J.D. Vance's 'Hillbilly Elegy' provides a window into the pain and anger of Trump's America

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"Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis" by J.D. Vance; Harper (272 pages, $27.99)

J.D. Vance was born into love, abuse and decline. A hillbilly with Kentucky roots, he survived a drug-addicted mother, gun-packing relatives and a culture of defiance and self-doubt that coalesced into a political voice that has made Donald ...Read more

Review: 'The Heavens May Fall' by Allen Eskens

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"The Heavens May Fall" by Allen Eskens; Seventh Street Books (300 pages, $15.95)

In Allen Eskens' novels, Minnesota is a dark, violent place. His recurring characters routinely wrestle with loss, loneliness and loathing as they work their way through the carefully plotted mayhem imagined by the lawyer turned mystery writer.

Eskens' third book,...Read more

'Close Encounters of the Furred Kind': More irresistible tails from a cat-loving man

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"Close Encounters of the Furred Kind: New Adventures with My Sad Cat & Other Feline Friends" by Tom Cox; Thomas Dunne (265 pages, $24.99)

Fans of cat man Tom Cox and his merry band of pets can rejoice -- his fourth book about life with four demanding cats is available on our shores. Those who don't know Cox or his wildly popular social-media ...Read more

Today will be different. Except, of course, it won't

Books / Books News /

"Today Will Be Different" by Maria Semple; Little, Brown (336 pages, $27)

Maria Semple understands women on the verge -- she just likes to have a little fun at their (our?) expense. She's empathetic, sure, but as a former television writer ("Arrested Development," among other shows) with a formidable sense of humor, she can't help but reflect ...Read more

Visit the world's great bookstores without leaving your home

Books / Books News /

"Footnotes from the World's Greatest Bookstores: True Tales and Lost Moments from Book Buyers, Booksellers, and Book Lovers" by Bob Eckstein; Random House (176 pages, $22)

Illustrator and cartoonist Bob Eckstein had a dream: to paint the great independent bookstores of the world.

The result? The charming "Footnotes from the World's Greatest ...Read more

Cixin Liu portrays a universe in peril in 'Death's End'

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"Death's End" by Cixin Liu; Tor Books (608 pages, $26.99)

In Cixin Liu's novel "Death's End," the only human embedded in a hostile alien culture tells the woman he has long adored a fairy tale about an ancient kingdom where an artist does away with people by imprisoning them in his exquisite paintings.

Later, the brightest minds of the woman's...Read more

Pulitzer prize-winning journalist takes on GOP candidate in 'The Making of Donald Trump'

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"The Making of Donald Trump" by David Cay Johnston; Melville House (288 pages, $24.99)

Over an election season dominated by blatant flip-flops and lofty claims, there is one position that Republican presidential nominee Donald J. Trump has stood by firmly: He hates the media.

But his strong and often times brutal disdain for reporters is ...Read more


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