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“Defining Moments in Black History: Reading Between the Lies” by Dick Gregory Amistad, 236 pages, $24.99 When Dick Gregory died Aug. 19 at the age of 84, he was still almost a month away from publication of this book. Had he lived and been vigorous enough to flog the book everywhere possible on the book hype tour, there is no question in my mind that this book wo…

FICTION "A Legacy of Spies" By John Le Carré Viking 264 pages, $28 Spying is an old game the Good Book tells us. “God said to Moses, Choose twelve men, one from each of the tribes of Israel, and send them to spy on the land of Canaan.” John Le Carré’s latest spy novel, “A Legacy Of Spies,” is a book whose title is chosen carefully. John Banvi…

FICTION The Ninth Hour By Alice McDermott Farrar, Straus and Giroux 247 pages, $26 “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, my God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”  (Matthew 27:46) Alice McDermott reaches deep into the well of human experience once again in her superlative  “T…

FICTION Origin By Dan Brown Doubleday 456 pages. $29.95 Exploring the competitive tensions between religion and science, Dan Brown’s “Origin” is a mystery that will appeal to readers looking for thoughtfulness and thrills. Brown tells the tale of Edmond Kirsch, a brash computer scientist and atheist activist who thinks his recent discovery about humani…

Terry Tempest Williams is an acclaimed writer and advocate for conserving public lands. Her most recent book, "The Hour of Land: A Personal Topography of America's National Parks," offers a collection of essays on the value of national parks, the regenerative power they offer and the need to fight for their preservation against private interests. Williams will be spe…

MEMOIR An Odyssey: A Father, A Son, And An Epic” By Daniel Mendelsohn Knopf 306 pages, $26.95 “An Odyssey” is, all at once, a beautiful personal narrative and literary interpretation by Daniel Mendelsohn, a classicist at Bard College. It has a retrospective father-son theme, using the literary device of Homer’s  "Odyssey" as its mirror image. Mendel…

“Funeral Platter” by Greg Ames, Arcade, 244 pages, $24.99 Titling is an art all by itself--especially in postmodern fiction where a title’s vector can be straight ahead or at a sharp ironic turn from the story. A book of short stories called “Funeral Platter” goes only part way into telling you just how unbuttoned Greg Ames’ literary sensibility can be. You …

The middle finger of the Swedish academics remains metaphorically raised to contemporary American literature. That is one inescapable conclusion from Thursday's announcement that the Nobel Prize for Literature went to Kazuo Ishiguro, the ultra-English novelist whose family arrived in England from Japan when he was five. It isn't that Ishiguro isn't a worthy writer. H…

NONFICTION Unbelievable: My Front Row Seat to The Craziest Campaign In American History By Katy Tur Dey Street Books 291 Pages, $29.99 Katy Tur was the first national TV news reporter to cover Donald Trump's presidential campaign. She visited more than 40 states in 17 months and filed 3,800 live reports for NBC and MSNBC about his improbable campaign . Sh…

YOUNG ADULT You Bring the Distant Near by Mitali Perkins; Farrar Straus Giroux, 303 pages, ($17.99) Ages 12 and up. ... This lovely narrative of mothers and daughters, of the immigrant experience, of female empowerment and cultural and racial identity, of leaving home and starting over, spans generations and continents, from Calcutta to Ghana to London to Harlem. It's t…

NONFICTION The Broken Ladder: How Inequality Affects the Way We Think, Live, and Die By Keith Payne Viking 219 pages, $28 Unlike most books about income and wealth inequality -- and there are plenty -- this one offers no remedies to even the playing field. Don't look here for Social Security overhauls, tax reform or magic bullets. Instead, this work is de…

FICTION No Saints in Kansas By Amy Brashear Soho Teen 320 pages, $18.99 Truman Capote left New York City for Holcomb, Kansas, as soon as he heard about the murder of a Holcomb farmer, his wife and the two youngest of their four children. In November 1959, just a year after publishing "Breakfast at Tiffany's," Capote was casting about for a new writing proj…

A glorious thing happened to Buffalo as it raced into the 21st century. It suddenly sprouted a brilliant bumper crop of superb younger writers eager to tell the world in their work that they came from Buffalo. Lauren Belfer's "City of Light" probably came as the biggest shock to the system but Greg Ames' "Buffalo Lockjaw" was, in its way, almost as much of a landmark Buffa…

NONFICTION The Best Land Under Heaven: The Donner Party in the Age of Manifest Destiny By Michael Wallis Liveright 453 pages, $27.99 It’s been 170 years since a wagon train destined for California from Springfield, Ill. got itself hung up in the snows of the Sierra Nevada mountain range during a freakishly long and severe winter. Only about half of the …

HISTORY “How To Plan A Crusade: Religious War In The High Middle Ages” By Christopher Tyerman Pegasus Books 432 pages    $28.95 Christopher Tyerman, professor of history of the Crusades at Oxford, explores the role of reason in medieval wars in this must-read book for history buffs. Today some think of the word “medieval” as a sign of barbarism…