If you are looking to discover what singer Van Morrison was like growing up in Belfast, Northern Ireland, or what gossip former bandmates have about him, don't look for it in When That Rough God Goes Riding. Cultural critic Greil Marcus of Berkeley doesn't write biographies as much as ruminations.
In September 1966, the militant Quebec separatists Pierre Vallières and Charles Gagnon, wanted by Canadian police for a spate of bombings, came out of hiding to issue a statement at United Nations headquarters in Manhattan. Quebecers were, they declared, an oppressed group whose struggles mirrored
"I have been a kind of undercover person from birth almost," says one of the two main characters in Michael Gruber's "The Good Son," "and I am bound to offend those who like neat classifications." Not an improbable statement, coming from a major player in a spy thriller — if "The Good Son" can be
For Rupert Murdoch, buying the Wall Street Journal wasn't just business; it was personal. That's because with the Journal under his control, Murdoch could finally realize his dream of destroying the New York Times. Murdoch, who started his multibillion-dollar media empire with a couple of Australian
On the back of the book is printed in large capital letters, "THIS IS A STORY". It's worth remembering that emphatic statement as you read the book. This is not a speculation about the beginnings of Christianity, a claim to have uncovered the real, suppressed history of Jesus. It is a fable through
"I consider only the Mohammedans to be safe. All the others I consider unsafe," Adolf Hitler proclaimed at his headquarters one day in 1942. "I don't see any risk if one actually sets up pure Mohammedan units." The Soviet Union, Hitler's enemy, had a population of millions of Muslims who felt their
"Tell a dream, lose a reader," the saying goes, but Brad Watson ignored that advice in his splendidly dream-laden novel, The Heaven of Mercury, and watched it become a finalist for the National Book Award in 2002. Watson's dreams work because they avoid twee mysticism or kitsch — they're made of
In his 2007 book, The Discovery of France, historian Graham Robb argued that the idea of a homogeneous people called "the French" was a myth carefully constructed to bring political and cultural unity to a "vast encyclopedia of micro-civilizations." Now, in his new work, Parisians: An Adventure
The intimate lives of writers have always had a special attraction for readers, perhaps because we imagine that people who can shape ideas and arrange scenes on the page should be able to offer us some special insight into how to order our messy off-the-page lives. This has rarely been proven the
When Hitler had conquered nearly all of Europe, Winston Churchill resisted the considerable pressure to make terms with Germany. Britons take a justifiable pride in their most famous Prime Minster's foresight, and his achievements during the war that followed.