Nonfiction Reviews Archive

Why A Good Future Isn’t A Sure Thing: A Review of The Sixth Extinction

The Sixth Extinction explores the tragedy of past extinctions and the reality of currently endangered species by engaging science through the approachability of story and well-placed gravity. Kolbert---winner of the National Magazine Award and a science writer for The New Yorker---is articulate and engaging, which made this book difficult to put down.

Big Picture History: A Review of Heretics and Heroes

There is nothing groundbreaking or earth-shattering about Thomas Cahill's latest Hinges of History volume, Heretics and Heroes: How Renaissance Artists and Reformation Priests Created Our World, but that is not why the series is so popular. Cahill's work is a high flight over the historical landscape with the occasional landing to meet representative and

Beyond the Us-Versus-Them Narrative: A Review of The Undivided Past

In David Cannadine's "The Undivided Past: Humanity Beyond Our Differences," we discover a hopeful narrative which sees cooperation as the defining message of human history.

How a Woman Modernized China: A Review of Empress Dowager Cixi

Pearl Buck once observed that those who hated the Empress Dowager Cixi were “more articulate than those who loved her.” Jung Chang’s recent biography, Empress Dowager Cixi: The Concubine Who Launched Modern China, argues that Cixi has long been misunderstood, and her monumental reforms falsely credited to the men who served her or ruled

Why Religion Eventually Leads to Secularity: A Review of Big Gods

"Secular societies climbed the ladder of religion, and then kicked it away," says Ara Norenzayan in Big Gods: How Religion Transformed Cooperation and Conflict. Security breeds secularity. "There are indications that some societies with strong institutions and material well-being may have passed a threshold, no longer needing religion to sustain large-scale cooperation."

Micro-Review: Lost at Sea

I first heard of Jon Ronson in 2011 when he read an excerpt of his book The Psychopath Test on This American Life. A British journalist, he’s known for his investigative reports for the Guardian and has a popular BBC Radio show. Lost at Sea is a collection of essays that originally appeared in

Micro-Review: Bootstrapper

Mardi Jo Link is more comfortable with an ax in her hand than a briefcase. So when she and her husband divorce after almost twenty years, she vows to do whatever it takes to keep her three sons and their hundred-year-old farmhouse on a small farm in Northern Michigan.

Micro-Review: A Little History of Literature

“If we read well,” writes John Sutherland, “we find ourselves in a conversational relationship with the most creative minds of our own time and of the past. Time spent reading literature is always time well spent. Let no one tell you otherwise.
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