Issue of December 11, 2011

I imagine most people are now feeling the holiday season. What they feel is entirely individual, but it is to be hoped that at least some, and maybe most, of the feelings are positive ones. Happy holidays!

The past—be it the Middle Ages or 1692—spawned enormous advances in science, art, literature, and more, advances that in fact bring us to today. Gillian Polack found three books—all in different genres—that highlight how “we, as readers, begin to understand the people who have gone before” in How We Understand the Past – From Three Directions.

Former boxing champion Joe Frazier is the focus of Pete Croatto’s latest read in Requiem for a Heavyweight. While the book includes his extended relationship with his nemesis, Muhammad Ali, another champion, it is the book and its readers who are the real winners.

Carl Rollyson is sufficiently annoyed by the latest awarding of the Norman Mailer Prize for Distinguished Biography to Keith Richards that he beats up the writers’ colony that was born of the writer and provides the prize in this biting, honest warning to readers of biography in Accept No Substitutes.

Gifts and more gifts. Lauren Roberts has the fourth in her guide to bookish gifts, this one focusing on those in the price range of $500-$1,000 (along with a selection of literary hotels) in Literary Gift Guide, Part 4.

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