7 Best-Reviewed Books in March 2019

  • April 4, 2019

We came, we read, we gushed. Here’s a recap of the titles that left us especially warm and swoony this past month.

7 Best-Reviewed Books in March 2019

Antisemitism: Here and Now by Deborah E. Lipstadt (Schocken). Reviewed by Helene Meyers. “Antisemitism was written after Charlottesville and before Pittsburgh. Since its release, a spate of less-publicized but no less terrorizing attacks against Jews in Brooklyn has occurred, and a member of Congress has trafficked in antisemitism and apologized for it. In other words, the timeliness of Lipstadt’s nuanced, accessible discussion of contemporary antisemitism cannot be overstated.”

First: Sandra Day O’Connor by Evan Thomas (Random House). Reviewed by Talmage Boston. “Thomas’ education and experience pay off big time in First and provide the foundation for not only his fast-paced narrative but, more importantly, his cogent analysis of the most important cases addressed by O’Connor during her quarter-century on the nation’s highest court.”

The New Iberia Blues: A Dave Robicheaux Novel by James Lee Burke (Simon & Schuster). Reviewed by Mark Gamin. “Few of these plot pieces are new to Burke’s books, but it’s what he does within his own framework that is so pleasing. The violence and the strong language are not for the faint of heart, but Burke’s prose (especially his dialogue) is wonderful, well-suited to describing the ambience of a south Louisiana blues club, or the third-century Christian martyrs Felicity and Perpetua, or cruelty, as in: ‘Cruelty comes in all forms. It’s least attractive when you discover it in yourself.’”

Doing Justice: A Prosecutor’s Thoughts on Crime, Punishment, and the Rule of Law by Preet Bharara (Knopf). Reviewed by Kitty Kelley. “But now we have an un-put-down-able primer from the former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York (SDNY), written with immense skill and engaging style. He’s tough, smart, and funny. He does not condescend to readers without legal credentials but clearly explains what ‘confirmation bias’ is, what ‘proffers’ are, and why most trial lawyers won’t risk irritating judges with ‘a motion for reconsideration.’ He tells riveting stories from real-life experience and attributes his near-perfect record as a federal prosecutor to the hard work and preparation that his team invested in achieving convictions in cases such as the Madoff/JPMorgan Chase Ponzi scheme and a scam defrauding a fund for Holocaust survivors.”

The Night Tiger: A Novel by Yangsze Choo (Flatiron Books). Reviewed by Patricia Schultheis. “The Night Tiger is a galloping good read that’s blessedly free of political polemics and post-colonial self-righteousness. Instead, what author Yangsze Choo has given readers is a darn good yarn replete with shape-shifting tigers, severed fingers, complex sibling bonds, an evil stepparent, vivid dreamscapes, thwarted love, a psychopathic serial killer, poison, and grave-robbing.”

Wherever the Sound Takes You: Heroics and Heartbreak in Music Making by David Rowell (University of Chicago Press). Reviewed by Terry Zobeck. “Too often, reading about people performing music is as unrewarding as reading about people performing sex. Readers generally would prefer to be engaging in the act themselves. Most authors simply cannot capture and convey the passion that makes such acts so vital. David Rowell’s Wherever the Sound Takes You is a happy exception.”

What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker: A Memoir in Essays by Damon Young (Ecco). Reviewed by Tara Campbell. “By offering himself up as the punching bag, Young defuses just enough tension to tackle difficult issues of race and identity. Rather than accusing his readers of being brutes, he leans close to them and hooks a thumb back at his former, less-enlightened self, saying, Look at that guy. Can you believe him? He had some growing up to do, didn’t he? That said, Young doesn’t claim to know everything, or even to speak for all black people, acknowledging that ‘the experience of American blackness is too varied and motley to feign some sort of universality.’”

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