Our 5 Most Popular Posts: February 2024

  • March 4, 2024

We love every piece we run. There are no winners or losers. But all kidding aside, here are February’s winners.

Our 5 Most Popular Posts: February 2024

  1. David A. Taylor’s review of The Garretts of Columbia: A Black South Carolina Family from Slavery to the Dawn of Integration by David Nicholson (University of South Carolina Press). “Thanks to the family’s rise in education and newspaper publishing, there existed enough documents for Nicholson to unearth to piece together a dazzling puzzle. While telling his ancestors’ story, he weaves in alternate explanations at times, highlighting the uncertain process of discovery. In doing so, he brings to the task the narrative skills of a fiction writer (he has published short stories) and the skepticism of a journalist.”

  2. Tom Young’s review of Brotherhood of the Flying Coffin: The Glider Pilots of World War II by Scott McGaugh (Osprey Publishing). Reviewed by Tom Young. “During World War II, there were no aircraft capable of dropping heavy equipment for an airborne invasion. Nowadays, if you need a truck or an artillery piece on the ground in a hurry, you can slide it out the back of a C-130 or a C-17. Giant parachutes will open and deliver it unbroken, right where you want it. But in the 1940s, you had to put that artillery piece, along with its crew, in a glider. Simple, really. Just cut loose from the tow plane and crash-land in the middle of a firefight. If you can find pilots skilled and brave enough to do something that crazy.”

  3. Mike Maggio’s review of The Qur’an: A Verse Translation by M.A.R. Habib and Bruce B. Lawrence (Liveright). “The new translation is much more succinct and is rendered in language that is natural and limpid and, as the authors claim, ‘reads like English verse while retaining the deep structure of the Arabic text.’ Whether Habib and Lawrence’s translation becomes a standard for English-speaking Muslims like me remains to be seen. Nonetheless, their work should be of interest to everyone for the way in which it provides clarity, context, and beauty to — and renders into poetry — one of civilization’s most important texts.”

  4. Eliza Nellums’ review of The Night of the Storm: A Novel by Nishita Parekh (Dutton). “While those assembled debate their options, we are, of course, aware time is running out; Harvey is a monster. The eerily empty subdivision, so close to retention ponds, is clearly unsafe. But we soon learn scheming Seema has her own motivations for encouraging Jia to join them and her own secrets to keep — as do the rest of the trapped characters, from the neighbor who shows up under suspicious circumstances to the grandmother glowering in the corner. Longtime resentments begin to emerge under the stress of rising floodwaters. Add in the suspense-raising stakes of ongoing harassment by Jia’s ex, and by the time the murders start, we’re locked in and ready for the ride.”

  5. Peggy Kurkowski’s review of The Killing Ground: A Biography of Thermopylae by Myke Cole and Michael Livingston (Osprey Publishing). “Cole and Livingston propose bold new theories about the battle that should stir debate in military-history circles, writing that ‘the Greek plan at Thermopylae is widely misunderstood.’ They contradict Greek historian Herodotus’ assertion that Leonidas and the Spartans marched off knowingly to martyrdom to fulfill a highly suspect pronouncement of the Oracle at Delphi. Provocatively, they claim that ‘one thing we can be certain Leonidas was not doing was planning to die.’ This section of The Killing Ground fearlessly engages with primary source material, archaeological evidence, and boots-on-the-ground inspection of the terrain to demonstrate persuasively how the battle unfolded (and alone is worth the price of the book).”

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