Share this article

print logo

Michael D. LanganNEWS BOOK REVIEWER


By Michael D. Langan

Sun, Mar 25, 2012

In a first novel of mixed merit, John Donatich, director of Yale University Press, adds to a long list of Roman Catholic priests with good hearts and bad habits with his Father Dominic in "The Variations."Perhaps the gentlest writer in this priestly genre was J.F. Powers (1917-1999), who wrote a number of novels and short stories about priests and the Catholic Ch…

By Michael D. Langan

Sun, Mar 18, 2012

Mark K. Updegrove, the director of the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library and Museum in Austin, Texas, has written a clever book that LBJ himself -- his Machiavellian subject -- would have enjoyed."Indomitable Will" is also a great read for those who enjoy an articulate description of how American politics shape-shifts into history over time.With his …

By Michael D. Langan

Sat, Mar 3, 2012

In his new book, "Beautiful Souls," Eyal Press, a writer for the Nation, the New York Times magazine and the New York Review of Books, examines what makes people say "no" in morally compromising situations.Press asks why, "even in situations of seemingly total conformity, there are always some people who refuse to go along." Paradoxically, those who say "no" are …

By Michael D. Langan

Sat, Feb 4, 2012

With unending stories of child abuse described in the media, "Childism" is a timely book. The title is a shorthand for all kinds of abuse of children, an ugly word. It's been around since 1970 and means more broadly, "prejudice against children."The author, Elizabeth Young-Bruehl, knows the word is a hard one to accept. Isn't it just another "ism," she asks? She sa…

By Michael D. Langan

Sat, Jan 14, 2012

In the squib by his publisher, Michel Houellebecq is touted as "the most celebrated and controversial French novelist of our time." French literature has had its share of celebrated and controversial writers. Some were sham intellectuals and others piercing thinkers.To highlight the difference, one of Houellebecq's characters says, "All the theories of freedom, fro…

By Michael D. Langan

Sat, Dec 31, 2011

Over the past 10 years, we have seen a revolution in the book publishing industry as significant as the Gutenberg press in the 15th century. Digital publishing is threatening to be the new normal. This breakthrough and the digital reader have hit the staid book publishing industry like an earthquake. Aftershocks throughout the book business are still taking place…

By Michael D. Langan

Sat, Dec 17, 2011

Longtime NBC commentator Tom Brokaw's new book is a steam engine for getting America back on track. In his westerner with a world-of-experience way, he tells us what questions people asked him as he traveled around America.At the top of the list, "What has happened to us? Have we lost our way?"Things are tough. Listen to what Dan Loper of New Vienna, Ohio, told B…

By Michael D. Langan

Sun, Oct 2, 2011

The British writer David Lodge writes a kind of fiction at times that can raise one's hackles. In "A Man Of Parts," he takes the facts of an earlier British writer's life, H.G. Wells (1866-1946), and ruminates upon them, creating a novel out of known information, particularly his love life with two wives and many mistresses.As Blake Morrison of the Guardian put it,…

By Michael D. Langan

Sun, Sep 4, 2011

Why is the 1982 Booker Prize-winning Australian author, Thomas Keneally, who wrote "Schindler's Ark", made into the film, "Schindler's List," writing about famines?The reason is that he feels compassion for the oppressed, the "wretched of the earth," to use psychiatrist Frantz Fanon's phrase. Regrettably, man's greatest enemy is his own kind.Keneally writes a simpl…

By Michael D. Langan

Sun, Aug 14, 2011

If you enjoy watching the cooking channels, watching Giada smile with all those perfect teeth and getting to the heart of the artichoke, DBC Pierre's new novel, "Lights Out in Wonderland," is not for you."Lights Out in Wonderland" is an excoriation of the culture of food worship. It is a satirical roast that will go down hard in the posh places where one presses …

By Michael D. Langan

Sun, Jul 17, 2011

"Who'd chook a boy just to get his Chicken Joe's?" asks Harri Opuko, an 11-year-old from Ghana new to London. Harri watches with friends as police set up a crime scene on a street in the slums where his classmate has been murdered for his dinner."Pigeon English" is what the late Charles A. Brady, professor of English at Canisius College, used to call a "coming-of-a…

By Michael D. Langan

Sun, Jul 3, 2011

Remember Gordon Gekko's words: "Greed, for lack of a better word, is good" in the "Wall Street" film of 1987? ("Greed is good" was a better line, but he never said it.)The book, "Age of Greed", shows us that while "money never sleeps," it doesn't care much who it sleeps with. Its story line is "stewards of capitalism amass fortunes and the hell with the rest of u…

By Michael D. Langan

Sun, Jun 26, 2011

Eighty-five-year-old psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton has written a compelling memoir of his professional life.It is a corollary unexpressed but ably demonstrated that one cannot write about one's public life without revealing the private person.Lifton, an emeritus professor at City University of New York, modestly calls his book "Witness." It documents his therapeutic…

By Michael D. Langan

Sun, Jun 19, 2011

"I know of nothing more worthy of a man's ambition than that his son be the best of men."-- Plato I saw that quotation from Plato quite by accident. Our family was among the last to squeeze into the ornate hall for an honors assembly at our son's university almost 25 years ago.The program was about to begin. It was very warm. The master of ceremonies, a graduati…

By Michael D. Langan

Sun, May 29, 2011

"The Greater Journey" is the story of Americans with spirit and adventure who went to Paris between 1830 and 1900. They were "writers, doctors, politicians, architects, and others of high aspiration" ambitious to excel."Voila, Paris!" -- the title of the second chapter -- echoes the enthusiasm of those who went. "It was no longer something to read about at home, …