Issue of August 14, 2011

In this week’s issue, we have some fabulous reading for you—from serious to thoughtful and from fun to musing. We recommend not missing a single column!

Calendars represent time but what does time represent? In Time and the Jewish Past, Gillian Polack pulls together three very different books that all use time and calendars and Jewish history to illuminate not only the lives of European Jewry through the centuries but the European Renaissance as a whole.

Con men have been a part of American life from its beginnings. They fascinate both in their ability to con and in the price many have to eventually pay. In The Last, Great American Conman, Pete Croatto reviews a new book about one of the twentieth century’s great ones Evel Knievel, and finds a terrific, masterful read.

Being a biographer means digging into a subject’s life to pull out the person behind the legend. But what happens when the desired subject wields so much influence (and a willingness to be a kind of “literary gangster”) that even proposing such a biography is wracked with difficulties? Carl Rollyson details how he and his partner-wife tackled the obstacles they encountered in their pursuit of the person who became Susan Sontag in Picking a Subject: Part Three.

Lev Raphael has watched and commented on the fascination with all things Jane Austen, but something changed after he read a major mash-up. He found himself wondering What If? Not only “What if Austen had made the Bennet family in Pride and Prejudice Anglo-Jews?”, but what if he were the writer to work out the implications? Readers, he made the plunge in Bitten by the Austen Bug.

Those “lazy” days of summer are hitting their stride and Lauren Roberts in Lazy Times shares why she thinks everyone should take advantage of them. After all, Harriet Beecher Stowe noted our tendency to be lazy, and if one does it right lazy can be a good thing.

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