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By Michael D. Langan


Lifestyles

By Michael D. Langan

Sun, Mar 20, 2016

This is the story of Ireland’s War of Independence (1919 – 1921) and more.  “Bitter Freedom” is a masterful description of both the gritty detail and grand picture of the struggle all at once.  It is a history “that places Ireland in the panorama of a shifting world order while illuminating local politics at work…”  Ireland’s war was “part of a civilization in turmoil,” as…

Lifestyles

By Michael D. Langan

Sun, Oct 26, 2014

“A Map of Betrayal” by Ha Jin is the kind of brilliant fiction, a story of shifting personal loyalties across broad swaths of territory, that can only be done by one with a deep knowledge of two cultures: in his case, China and America.A note about the author: The novelist Ha Jin was born in Harbin, China, in 1956. He was involved in the Cultural Revolution as a young man…

By Michael D. Langan

Sun, Oct 19, 2014

It is time for Treasury defenders in Congress to return the Secret Service to Treasury’s oversight.When I served as senior adviser to the under secretary for enforcement at the U.S. Department of the Treasury from 1988 to 1998, the Secret Service was one of the proud standard bearers of the best agencies that the federal government could offer to its citizens.It has been i…

Lifestyles

By Michael D. Langan

Sun, Aug 3, 2014

It may have been James Thurber of the New Yorker who once described reading a number of different books as a “Miscellany of Reading.” Or it may have been Miss Masterson, my third-grade teacher at Franklin Elementary School in Lackawanna in 1944. I can’t remember.I vaguely remember her saying, “Knock off that ‘miscellany’ stuff, Michael.” Alas, I never could.But in that spi…

Lifestyles

By Michael D. Langan

Sun, Mar 30, 2014

Five years ago, I observed that American writer Ward Just was “… operating just below the radar. His steady stream of quality novels over more than 40 years put him in the running as a Pulitzer Prize finalist. Yet his work remains less read than it should, even though his name has a familiar ring to it.” An instance: his 2009 novel, “Exiles in the Garden”, referred to a c…

Lifestyles

By Michael D. Langan

Sat, Feb 15, 2014

Readers may remember the Jonestown commune massacre of almost 1,000 men, women and children at the People’s Temple in Jonestown, British Guyana. It took place Nov. 18, 1978. The leader of the doomed sect was Jim Jones, their misbegotten savior.Congressman Leo J. Ryan and four members of his investigatory party were shot as they tried to board a plane at Port Kaituma airstr…

Lifestyles

By Michael D. Langan

Sun, Jan 26, 2014

“Hellman was … talented, ambitious, restless, audacious, highly sexual, funny, generous, avaricious, mendacious, demanding, greedy, contemptuous, dogmatic, irritable, mean, jealous, self-righteous, angry … a piece of work.” - Dorothy GallagherAfter that, is there anything else to say?At least one isn’t in the dark about Dorothy Gallagher’s view of her subject. And she’s n…

By Michael D. Langan

Sun, Nov 3, 2013

A friend from Ireland wrote this week saying, “You are the only person I know who ever worked close to the ‘intelligence’ community. One has to wonder about the person who decided that it would be a good idea to tap [German Chancellor Angela] Merkel’s cellphone, and all the colleagues who went along with him. I do my best to explain the U.S. to my friends here, but you can…

By Michael D. Langan

Sun, Nov 3, 2013

This new novel with the strange title (more about that later) is by Dame of the British Empire, Margaret Drabble, sister of novelist and “Babel” series visitor A.S. Byatt. Drabble has written 17 novels as well as a volume of short stories.Add to that her biographies of Arnold Bennett and Angus Wilson and her work editing “The Oxford Companion to English Literature.” She ha…

By Michael D. Langan

Sun, Oct 20, 2013

Most of Peter Ackroyd’s more than 50 books – two dozen written in the past decade - can be consumed like a “Vinho do Porto,” a fortified wine product of Portugal. They are sweet reading, and reminiscent of the “page-turning literary history in the Gibbon and Macaulay tradition.” “Tudors,” the second in his series of six books of England’s history, fits the Ackroyd pattern …

Lifestyles

By Michael D. Langan

Sun, Sep 15, 2013

“Subtle Bodies” is about the joys and tribulations of marriage, vaguely reminding one in some ways of the 1982 film “The Big Chill.” Last time I looked, “subtle” meant “delicate or precise as to be difficult to describe.” Regrettably, the novel doesn’t pass this test. The first sentence of the novel begins, “Genitals have their own lives.” Hardly hackneyed but more vivid…

Lifestyles

By Michael D. Langan

Sun, Aug 25, 2013

An enriching, if less glamorous, description of Jane Austen’s England is featured in Roy and Lesley Adkin’s new book of the same name.The beloved Jane Austen (1775-1817) wrote late Georgian and Regency England novels of romance among the gentry, such as “Sense and Sensibility,” “Pride and Prejudice,” “Mansfield Park” and “Emma,” that are universally admired for how they de…

Lifestyles

By Michael D. Langan

Sun, Aug 18, 2013

Renowned Spanish writer Javier Marías has written an exquisite novel, his 13th and perhaps his best, “The Infatuations.” It contains the classical themes of love, death and fate – as the Argentine-born writer Alberto Manguel puts it – inextricably mixed.Some critics say it is the best Spanish novel since “Don Quixote.” It reads so beautifully that I had trouble not making …

Lifestyles

By Michael D. Langan

Sun, Aug 4, 2013

English social historian Judith Flanders is on the case of famous and obscure murders in “The Invention of Murder,”a fascinating story of crime and punishment in Victorian England. Her book is about how murder was “invented” by the Victorians. For most of the 19th century, until the death of Queen Victoria in 1901, the English were fascinated with what Thomas de Quincey ca…

Featured

By Michael D. Langan

Sat, Jun 15, 2013

“And The Mountains Echoed,” Khaled Hosseini’s new multigenerational novel, is about the love of brothers and sisters and extended family. Hosseini was born in Afghanistan in 1965 and settled with his family in San Jose, Calif., in 1980. He became a physician and is now a U.S. citizen. Hosseini says that such a love isn’t perfect. The result is that family members also “wou…