California Literary Review

Profile of Julia Braun Kessler


I hold an undergraduate degree from the University of Chicago and a Master of Arts from Columbia University.

I have had an extensive career in writing, editing and journalism, served as Features Editor for SEVENTEEN MAGAZINE, Research Editor for ENCYCLOPEDIA AMERICANA, Publications Director for the University of Michigan’s INSTITUTE FOR SOCIAL RESEARCH, Arts Editor for LA WEST MAGAZINE, and subsequently free-lanced articles for magazines and papers throughout the nation.
I have also taught Humanities at UCLA to technical and engineering students to broaden their approach to their technological world. I served as Editorial Consultant for social scientists and anthropologists at the University of Southern California’s Ethel Percy Andrus Gerontology Center, to produce their academic articles and books.

Email Address:

jbraun (AT) ucla (DOT) edu

Web Site:

Articles written for the California Literary Review:

  • Book Review: Naples Declared: A Walk Around The Bay by Benjamin Taylor
    Posted on 16 May 2012 in Books, Italy, Non-Fiction Reviews

    Considering how “casual” the work is in its approach, you could, I suppose, call it a mere glimpse into the turmoil and tragedies that overcame Naples. Yet, in some ways, this technique proves far more vibrant than the traditional presentations of historical events which most of us have experienced in the course of our schooling. Not to say Taylor hasn’t studied his subject or done his extensive research.

  • Book Review: Some of My Lives: A Scrapbook Memoir by Rosamond Bernier
    Posted on 19 Feb 2012 in Art, Books, Music, Non-Fiction Reviews

    Rosamond’s very early experiences with the great and famous were connected with her father’s love for music. Because he headed the Board of Directors of the Philadelphia Orchestra, she went often to rehearsals and concerts as a child, and when conductors and soloists were invited to Sunday luncheons at the Rosenbaum’s regularly, she was enthralled by their artistic talk and liberated manners. Among those she encountered and admired then were Otto Klemperer. Nathan Milstein, Jose Iturbi, Eugene Ormandy among others. So collecting her anecdotal tales of their eccentricities and foibles began even then. She even speaks of the Philadelphia Orchestra as “her extended family.”

  • Book Review: Literary Brooklyn by Evan Hughes
    Posted on 08 Nov 2011 in Books, History, Non-Fiction Reviews, Writers

    In his new history of the borough’s development you can virtually trace the emergence of America most talented writers, among them figures like Walt Whitman, Hart Crane, Thomas Wolfe, Bernard Malamud, Richard Wright, Norman Mailer and Arthur Miller. They, among many other notables, were residents in that “outlandish place,” and, it would seem, most often by choice!

  • Book Review: The Lake of Dreams by Kim Edwards
    Posted on 04 Jan 2011 in Fiction Reviews

    If anything can be said with certainty about our fickle reading public, it is that they will warmly welcome a finely-wrought family tale. It would seem that we all relish revelations of the darkest secrets in the early histories of our kinfolk. So it came as little surprise in 2006 when a young unknown, Kim Edwards, swept us up altogether with her debut family novel.

  • Book Review: The Art Detective by Philip Mould
    Posted on 08 Jun 2010 in Art, Great Britain, Non-Fiction Reviews

    Yet another of his discoveries turns out to be a lost watercolor by one of America’s greatest 19th century artists, Winslow Homer — a painting which had literally appeared out of nowhere one day in Southern Ireland, abandoned next to a dump heap! The work had been miraculously rescued by a local fisherman.

  • The Solitude of Prime Numbers by Paolo Giordano
    Posted on 17 Mar 2010 in Fiction Reviews, Italy, Mathematics

    A startling achievement in a first novel, the work seems to have already touched a chord since it has taken Italy and Europe by storm and sold copies in the millions. It was undertaken by a young Italian physicist at age 27, who tells a haunting story. Better yet, he’s a natural, adept with characterization, knowing how to captivate and hold his readers.

  • Churchill by Paul Johnson
    Posted on 01 Dec 2009 in Biography, Great Britain, History, Non-Fiction Reviews

    And Johnson reminds us of the memorable words he spoke after France capitulated: “Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duty and so bear ourselves that if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years men will still say, ‘This was their finest hour.’” Here the biographer also observes, “So the first true victory Britain won in the war was the victory of oratory and symbolism. Churchill was responsible for both.”

  • The Bolter by Frances Osborne
    Posted on 27 Jul 2009 in Biography, Great Britain, Non-Fiction Reviews

    She introduces a woman who may have upset those around her by her promiscuity, even nymphomania, drug use; but also gives us access to a fearless beauty with gifts of intelligence, wit, and extraordinary powers to attract the opposite sex. Then too, she reveals that her antics as combined with her endowments were nevertheless insufficient in her hunt for love and lasting affection.

  • Manhattan: School for Scriveners
    Posted on 08 Jul 2009 in Non-Fiction Reviews

    For me, it was the people themselves, their intellectual inclinations, their sophisticated speech, their crisp wit in delivery which touched every aspect of my days and later still, my evenings as well. They themselves attracted, fascinated even more than daily procedures of the research itself. I had hardly met an assembly of such varied sorts in my Bronx world before. Among them were not just New Yorkers but some who’d come from other sections of our vast country. Several already lived Bohemian lives in trendy Greenwich Village. They knew a city that I had had no real hint of, had not yet encountered.

  • All Our Worldly Goods by Irene Nemirovsky
    Posted on 18 Jan 2009 in Fiction Reviews, France

    How might we doubt that any long dead, wholly forgotten writer, who has re-emerged and within a few short years risen to a second round of best-sellerdom with three newly-discovered novels is a truly remarkable craftsman? Irene Nemirovsky first came to our attention in 2004, sixty years after her demise at the hands of the Nazis in Auschwitz, when a novel of hers was found “buried” within her journal entries.

  • The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
    Posted on 02 Sep 2008 in Fiction Reviews, Great Britain, Historical Fiction

    Such a pity Mary Ann Shaffer is not around to enjoy her celebrity! Shaffer died in February of this year and thus missed her own miracle—best-sellerdom for a first book written by an already “mature” librarian, former bookseller, and unpublished, aspiring writer. The good news, however, is that her opus is engaging, ingenious and ahead of the publishing game.

  • The Forsaken: An American Tragedy in Stalin’s Russia by Tim Tsouliadis
    Posted on 23 Jul 2008 in History, Non-Fiction Reviews, Russia

    Readers of faint heart beware when embarking upon this superb work of history. So many stories of suffering are here collected, so utterly specific in their brutal details, a strong stomach will be required. Yet, it is worth the pain since one cannot emerge doubting: the epoch is surely one of history’s most vicious; and its revelation of the Twentieth Century’s brutality is dumbfounding.

  • The Man Who Made Lists by Joshua Kendall
    Posted on 11 Mar 2008 in Biography, Great Britain, Linguistics, Non-Fiction Reviews

    By the end of that lecture, Roget had concluded that one of the causes of “the slow progress of human knowledge” was “the imperfections of language, both as an instrument of thought and a medium of communication.” It was on that June morning that Dugald Stewart implanted in his disciple a mission which was to occupy him for the rest of his life.

  • Murdering Miss Austen
    Posted on 06 Dec 2007 in Books, Fiction Reviews, Literary Themes, Writers

    Jane Austen, whose sharp tongue barely left her cheek during her short lifetime, and, whose caustic satire survived the intervening centuries of industrialization, through revolution and war, as well as the whirligig of literary fashions (whose onslaught took down others as great) may finally be deflated or drowned in the crazy waves of idiot’s delights!

  • Fire in the Blood by Irène Némirovsky
    Posted on 15 Oct 2007 in Fiction Reviews, France

    Silvio’s tale proceeds to unravel the neighborhood secrets, as he uncovers them with a skill that only an exquisite sensibility like Némirovsky’s commands, revealing shockers — illicit passion, intense jealousy, illegitimate offspring, and … murder! Such untold events have remained long hidden, if gossiped over by villagers, vicious events these country people chose never to acknowledge.

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