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California Literary ReviewNon-Fiction Reviews | California Literary Review California Literary Review

Non-Fiction Reviews

Denial of Death by Ernest Becker

by

January 25th, 2020

According to Becker, man is torn between his symbolic, self-conscious awareness and his animal nature. The same creature that names himself, imagines, explores and speculates is in the end, food for insects.

Democracy and Populism : Fear and Hatred by John Lukacs

by

January 25th, 2020

You may not like what he says, you may not agree with his conclusions, but his thinking and his writing are so broad, rich, and in-depth that all but the most iconoclastic, the most radicalized, is forced to consider his perspectives.

Collapse: How Nations Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared Diamond

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January 23rd, 2020

By the time the first Europeans visited Easter in 1722, the Island was nearly uninhabited, virtually barren except for the statues, and plagued by such a history of violence and cannibalism that in Island oral traditions, the most hostile insult a person could make was: “The flesh of your mother sticks between my teeth.”

Bedrock: Writers on the Wonders of Geology by Lauret E. Savoy, Eldridge M. Moores, Judith E. Moores

by

January 23rd, 2020

How do we understand the natural forces that literally shape our world? How, over time have we attempted to explain sometimes spectacular, sometimes mysterious events?

How the Cold War Began: The Igor Gouzenko Affair and the Hunt for Soviet Spies by Amy Knight

by

January 22nd, 2020

Readers seeking to learn how the Cold War really began can bypass this book, since despite its title it will not tell them what they want to know.

Chief Joseph & the Flight of the Nez Perce: The Untold Story of an American Tragedy by Kent Nerburn

by

January 22nd, 2020

No one knows for certain who first uttered the notorious statement that “the only good Indian is a dead Indian.” General Philip Sheridan, commander of the U.S. Army on the Western Frontier, often gets the dubious honor for a remark he reputedly made to a Comanche chief in 1869.

Casting a Spell: The Bamboo Fly Rod and the American Pursuit of Perfection by George Black

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January 21st, 2020

Some years ago, back in the days of its relative anonymity, fly fishing was considered an arcane art practiced by mildly addled, eccentric cranks.

Campus Sexpot by David Carkeet

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January 20th, 2020

Naturally, the publishing of this book complete with its intrigue, loose morals, and the real citizens’ names thinly disguised, set the town on its ear.

The Breaking Point: Hemingway, Dos Passos and the Murder of Jose Robles by Steven Koch

by

January 19th, 2020

A ghost is a spirit who won’t stay dead.

Break, Blow, Burn: Camille Paglia Reads Forty-three of the World’s Best Poems

by

January 19th, 2020

Blest be anyone who, in this age of meretricious materialism, nascent narcissism, and hapless hedonism, returns us to poetry, to the joy of language for its own sake, for its distilled passion, and for its summons to discipline, in both writer and reader.

Blessed Among Nations: How the World Made America by Eric Rauchway

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January 18th, 2020

Academics often say that there are two ways to use history: As a means to understand the past, or as a means to understand the present.

Battle for Europe: How the Duke of Marlborough Masterminded the Defeat of France at Blenheim by Charles Spencer

by

January 18th, 2020

Even the greatest deeds of brave men can be forgotten in the mists of time – even when those deeds have a direct impact on how our world is organized today.

The Argumentative Indian: Writings On Indian History, Culture and Identity by by Amartya Sen

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January 16th, 2020

The Argumentative Indian is a discussion on the genesis and direction of the Indian identity, in the context of a global intercourse of ideas, ancient and recent.

American Sucker – by David Denby

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January 16th, 2020

The emotional trauma exposed a vulnerability that lay beneath all outward signs of success: a career as film critic for New Yorker magazine, a resident of New York’s upper west side, and the father of two children.

After the Victorians by A.N. Wilson

by

January 14th, 2020

Like its predecessor, The Victorians, this book is a portrait of an age, rather than a formal history.

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