Book Reviews

Ron Austin’s In a New Light: Spirituality and the Media Arts

This essay was originally published at Sojourners.

Feb 1, 2008
Category: Book Reviews, Words

What Are You Reading?

A few words on a few of the books I’ve been enjoying lately.

Apr 9, 2007
Category: Book Reviews, Words

A Long Way Down (2005)

Kakutani’s reading seems lazy to me. She’s misjudged these folks — not to mention Hornby’s intentions — and is punching herself silly, chasing after her straw men.

Jun 14, 2006
Category: Book Reviews, Words

The Moviegoer (1962)

If you’re reading this in the future — say, you’ve wandered here via some poof of Google magic — you should know that if I were to turn on my television right now (now being the afternoon of September 2, 2005), I’d flip past image after image after image of destruction, violence, and misery.

Sep 2, 2005
Category: Book Reviews, Words


I’m almost finished Dreamer, Charles Johnson’s novel about Martin Luther King, Jr.’s struggles in Chicago in 1966, and it’s amazing — the finest novel I’ve read in months. (Dreamer wants to become part of my stalled dissertation; I have, as yet, managed to fight that urge.)

May 17, 2004
Category: Book Reviews, Words

Little Children

So many of Perrotta’s observations of suburban life are so spot-on — I especially like the way that his lead characters absolutely adore their children while still resenting somewhat the life-changes they’ve caused — but the narrative voice never quite transcends the banality of the lives it is documenting. Maybe that’s the point. I doubt it.

Apr 22, 2004
Category: Book Reviews, Words

The Meanings of Social Life: A Cultural Sociology

I am of two minds about The Meanings of Social Life: A Cultural Sociology. The argument that Alexander and Philip Smith lay out in Chapter 1 is intriguing, and Alexander’s application of it in his readings of the Holocaust and Watergate are refreshingly useful. The rest, to be perfectly frank, feels a bit like filler.

Dec 30, 2003
Category: Book Reviews, Words

The Rise and Fall of the American Left (1992)

By John Patrick Diggins For Diggins, the first problem facing any historian of the American Left is one of basic terminology. “The characteristics most often used to define the Left,” he writes, “the demand for change; political ideals like justice, equality, and democracy; anticapitalism and the tactic of dissent; the mentalities of rationalism and ideology—are […]

Jan 22, 2003
Category: Book Reviews, Words

The Agony of the American Left

Spanning the years from the Populist movement of the 1890s to the radical politics of the 1960s, Lasch’s study offers a useful analysis of many of the social, economic, and political forces that have combined to frustrate the American Left in its search for a politically potent mixture of theory and action.

Jan 19, 2003
Category: Book Reviews, Words

The Culture of the Cold War (1991)

The Culture of the Cold War is divided into chapter-long studies of the major voices of popular culture, each of which, according to Whitfield, reflected and contributed to the polarity that characterized so much of the 1950s.

Jun 12, 2002
Category: Book Reviews, Words