7 Best-Reviewed Books in July 2019

  • August 5, 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 July 2019

Mark Twain’s Literary Resources: A Reconstruction of His Library and Reading by Alan Gribben (NewSouth Books). Reviewed by Philip K. Jason. “It is great fun to join Gribben as he puts us into this significant part of Twain’s life. While much of Gribben’s work is the bedrock business of fact-collecting, the delights come from his many ways of exploring for his readers what Twain’s collected reading means in understanding the classic American author as a man, a creative force, and as both an appreciator and detractor of the writings of others.”

The First Wave: The D-Day Warriors Who Led the Way to Victory in World War II by Alex Kershaw (Dutton Caliber). Reviewed by James A. Percoco. “This is not a sweeping, panoramic history of senior commanders in 1944 plotting battle strategies. Rather, it’s an honest, boots-on-the-ground tale of men from the United States, Canada, Great Britain, and France who endured combat in what General Dwight D. Eisenhower called ‘the Great Crusade,’ the liberation of Nazi-occupied Europe.”

Skeleton Keys: The Secret Life of Bone by Brian Switek (Riverhead Books). Reviewed by Mariko Hewer. “It’s impossible to read a book about bones without thinking of one’s own mortality. Bones may not be the flashiest, sexiest parts of our existence, but they do what no other organ or system can — they hold our very beings together. This is the message Brian Switek seeks to convey in Skeleton Keys: The Secret Life of Bone. He succeeds, with very few exceptions.”

Dawson’s Fall: A Novel by Roxana Robinson (Sarah Crichton Books). Reviewed by Chris Rutledge. “At the core of the novel is the love story between Sarah and Francis. In a letter to her, he writes that his ‘lips refuse to be sealed & can no more refrain from telling their love for you & to you than they can cease to breathe the fragrant breath of life.’ Their narrative continues until the end, each sensing what the other is thinking, as if their two minds are one. However, the book is much more than just a simple romance. Taken as a whole, the couple’s story reads as a reflection of America in the years after the Civil War, defined by reinvention, race, and the ideal of honor.”

My Coney Island Baby: A Novel by Billy O’Callaghan (Harper). Reviewed by Daniel Weaver. “Technology fails to make a single appearance; politics is absent. The novel works more slowly and makes promises less grand and more familiar than most of its peers but tells the story I imagine O’Callaghan intended: a heartfelt, engrossing web of four intertwined lives strewn with tragedies and banalities, all bound together by an affair.”

In West Mills: A Novel by De’Shawn Charles Winslow (Bloomsbury Publishing). Reviewed by Bob Duffy. “In West Mills shines an admiring spotlight on these distinctively American places, speaking with unadorned eloquence to the unvoiced feelings, impulses, and loyalties that bind the town’s residents. For readers both in and beyond the inherited blood-grip of these bonds, the author brings this world alive with blade-sharp fidelity. The sense of the real — and the living undercurrents of rooted kinship — inhabits every page.”

George Marshall: Defender of the Republic by David L. Roll (Dutton Caliber). Reviewed by Paul Dickson. “There are many such examples, but one of the most intriguing came days after Pearl Harbor, when Marshall summoned Brigadier General Dwight D. Eisenhower to Washington to be one of his war planners. Roll’s comment: ‘Thus began a partnership that led to the greatest victory in American history since the Revolutionary War.’ Still, Roll does not omit nor gloss over Marshall’s flaws and shortcomings, which include his failure to integrate the racially segregated U.S. Army in the days before and during WWII — a failure he shared with almost all of the men in power in Washington at the time, including the president himself.”

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