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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…

Books

“Little Boxes: 12 Writers on Television” edited by Caroline Casey, 124 pages, $16.95 paperback original. V. V. Ganeshananthan is a novelist who teaches at the University of Minnesota. She is also the non-white daughter of a doctor which is why the one TV show she was allowed to watch growing up as a kid by her doctor father was “The Cosby Show” with its “intim…

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FICTION Sing, Unburied, Sing By Jesmyn Ward Scribner 289 pages, $26 Not to mince words, “Sing, Unburied, Sing” is a marvel -- a novel that not only transcends the genre but unlike most of its counterparts, can be called literature. Arresting, elevating, relevant, original. All the words apply although “Sing, Unburied, Sing” is not a pretty book. J…

CHILDREN'S The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine by Mark Twain and Philip Stead with Illustrations by Erin Stead; Doubleday Books for Young Readers, 160 pages ($24.99) Ages 8 to 12. ... This wonderful, beautifully illustrated volume takes some notes and a bare outline of a story Mark Twain made up for his daughters in a Paris hotel in 1879 and fleshes it out …

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MANHATTAN BEACH, Calif. — He didn’t need to tell that video director to shut up. Did he? It’s evening in this Southern California beach town, where Ken Baker is sipping a Diet Coke on the patio of the Shade Hotel. He is at ease. His chin stubble and USA Hockey cap make him seem more hockey dad than Hollywood, which is mostly true. But Baker, a Hamburg native, …

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Warner Bros: The Making of an American Movie Studio By David Thomson, Yale University Press, 220 pages, $25. A droll title but you have to read it carefully. There is no period after the word “bros,” so the implication is that Thomson is not using the word -- or at least not ONLY using the word “bros” -- as an abbreviation of “Brothers” but also playing off …

PICTURE BOOK Vincent Can't Sleep: Van Gogh Paints the Night Sky by Barb Rosenstock, illustrated by Mary Grandpre; Alfred A. Knopf, $17.99. Vincent Van Gogh was often plagued with insomnia, and Barb Rosenstock, the gifted author of Kandinsky picture bio "The Noisy Paint Box" (which won Caldecott Honors for Mary Grandpre), uses "Vincent can't sleep…" to begin each lo…

TRUE CRIME The Man From The Train: The Solving of a Century-Old Serial Killer Mystery By Bill James and Rachel McCarthy James Scribner 464 pages, $30 Bill James is one person who COULD quit his day job. Baseball fanatics, especially those who revel in statistics and numbers crunching, know James as the father of sabermetrics, the scientific analysis of ba…

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NONFICTION What Happened By Hillary Rodham Clinton Simon and Schuster 492 pages, $30 It's a book, first of all. Just a book. It's not a nuclear bomb. It's true that it launches a lot of carefully aimed missiles in a lot of American directions for posterity's sake--most notably at the nation's press and former FBI director James Comey--but it does so persu…

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“The Vietnam War: An Intimate History” by Geoffrey C. Ward and Ken Burns, Knopf, 613 pages, $60 This, from the introduction to this predictably exceptional book, is inarguable: “It’s been more than forty years now, and despite President [Gerald] Ford’s optimism we have never been able to put [The Vietnam] War behind us. The deep wounds it inflicted on our nati…

Books

FICTION The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye, a Lisbeth Salander Novel By David Lagercrantz; translated from the Swedish by George Goulding Alfred A. Knopf 347 pages, $27.95 Somewhere beyond the grave in the Great Hereafter, Stieg Larsson must be smiling: Lisbeth Salander, his "Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," is still avenging injustice, hacking files, kicking…

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BIOGRAPHY Pure Act: The Uncommon Life of Robert Lax By Michael N. McGregor Fordham University Press 472 Pages, $34.95 At the Circus, at the Spectacular Circus that his father declared singular, the youthful poet Robert Lax saw around the Circus the great seasons of the sky and the individual triumphs beneath it. Lax determined that this was what he wanted. W…

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NONFICTION The Last Castle By Denise Kiernan Touchstone 400 pages, $28 “A House Is Not a Home”, the 1964 song by Bert Bacharach and Hal David sums up any review of “The Last Castle,” by Denise Kiernan. It's an engagingly descriptive book about The Biltmore House in Asheville, N.C., a behemoth which seems to be hollowed out in the middle. Why? B…

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MEMOIR The Best of Us: A Memoir By Joyce Maynard Bloomsbury 437 pages, $27 Life is neither fair -- nor dull -- in Joyce Maynard’s latest memoir which, after 159 pages of unapologetic self congratulation, suddenly turns to gold. Surely this is intentional, Maynard being a teacher of the memoir genre -- and “The Best of Us”a tale of transformation. Bu…