RaveThe Washington PostWith its modest title, Pests might be mistakenly shelved with mouse-proofing guides. But Bethany Brookshire’s new book is something far more ambitious. A lively and fascinating work of science writing ... Writing insightfully about the cultural history of nature as it evolves with us, Brookshire...emphasizes that semi-imaginary animals we create in our minds are just as influential as real animals ... Brookshire mutters asides, even jokes, but she doesn’t talk down to the reader. She has done her research and writes with style ... Brookshire pays admirable attention to the questions of inequality and injustice that underlie our relationships with animals as they underlie everything else ... Brookshire expertly and entertainingly demonstrates that while it is risky to interact with our fellow creatures, it is even more perilous when we fail to clearly see our changing relationships with them.
RaveNew York Times Book ReviewCompelling and terrifying ... Breathless is so good that I was slow to realize that it lacks the vivid you-are-there details of Spillover. That’s because he wasn’t there ... A different species of tour de force ... These barriers didn’t prevent him from writing a luminous, passionate account of the defining crisis of our time — and the unprecedented international response to it ... Quammen marries an old-fashioned love of colorful language to his passion for detail — an odd coupling that results not just in a lucid book about an important topic, but also in a book that’s a pleasure to read.
PositiveThe Washington PostThe strangest thing about Walker’s series is how often Bruno starts out like Sheriff Andy Taylor of Mayberry and winds up like James Bond — with a dash of Anthony Bourdain. The running description on each Bruno novel is about landscape, not characters...There is even a question about whether these charming vignettes are stories in the usual sense ... Like all of Walker’s writing, however, these glimpses are rich in atmosphere and an almost visceral perception of the sympathy and compromise that bond a group of neighbors into a community. Page after page, Walker writes some of the best prose in the genre, attending to both human relationships and the texture of everyday life with a sensuous appreciation ... If you are new to Walker’s series, don’t start with Bruno’s Challenge. It doesn’t show off his plotting skills or his sly way of turning the screws in the last half of a novel. Do yourself the favor of beginning with Bruno, Chief of Police (2009). You don’t have to read the novels in order of publication, but doing so will let you witness how character relationships grow and change in realistic, unpredictable ways. However, if you already know and love Bruno and St. Denis, turn immediately to Martin Walker’s new platter of delicious morsels.
RaveThe Washington Post...magnificent ... Clearly McCrum is engaged with his own era. In a discussion of Shakespeare’s humor, he quotes from and analyzes a BBC interview with Phoebe Waller-Bridge, creator of Fleabag, about how comedy works ... In McCrum’s thoughtful explorations of modern Shakespearean tragedy, Donald Trump naturally comes up ... In his enthusiasm, McCrum doesn’t flinch from expressing broad-brush opinions, but he does it so well it doesn’t matter if occasionally he dresses opinion as fact ... I had the odd feeling that Mr. McCrum had written this book for me ... I am not a Shakespearean scholar, but I have hiked around in this habitat, and Shakespearean is the first such tome that I have found not only thought-provoking but also moving and inspirational. McCrum’s living and breathing book reminds us why the fire of literature warms the soul.
Laura Dassow Walls
RaveThe Washington PostThis new biography is the masterpiece that the gadfly of youthful America deserves ... her broad grasp of the era’s scientific issues integrates Thoreau’s dawning ecological conscience into a better-understood context than most writers on the topic can provide ... Walls is too well versed in Thoreau’s life to accept his own often contradictory pronouncements or his semi-fictional first-person narrator as necessarily factual. She teases out nuances and implications, but without unfounded speculation.