Heir to the Empire is thirty years old this year, and somehow, the trilogy that it kicks off is still one of the best Star Wars stories ever written. All the adventure and intrigue, all the lightsabers and Jedi and space battles you could want, with one of the best villains in the Star Wars canon, new or old. There's a reason Zahn has kept writing Grand Admiral Thrawn, even in the new Star Wars universe: he's an all-time great.
Books of this size (and on this topic) all tend to end up with the same labels. Towering. Monumental. Sheehan's examination of the Vietnam War through the lens of John Paul Vann is all of those things, and also still so tremendously relevant. As an examination of American hubris and the ways in which it led, over and over, to tragedy and to destruction, A Bright, Shining Lie needs to be read now as much as it ever did.
Every historian of the American Revolution seems to write a history that claims to better represent it than any history which has come before. Whether Ellis succeeds in that goal is for each reader to decide, but he does present a well-crafted narrative of the 10 years that saw a group of 13 disparate states triumph over the British Empire, and manages to avoid the pitfalls of over-analyzing battles or over-lionizing the men who made that triumph a reality.
Something in the reading of this book feels very akin to taking a long walk with a friend. Stretches where the mind wanders, fixating on a pile of logs or run-down railroad tracks. Sharp bursts of conversation, musings on the Ottoman Empire and coefficients of economic inequality (and, yes, the meaning of freedom), filling the space until the silence creeps back in. Again and again, until we come to the end.
This is one of the strangest, most surprising books I have read in a very long time. It is absolutely the story of a brilliant scientist and her clone (and the sad excuse of a husband who leaves the former for the latter). It is also a deeply insightful meditation on grief, humanity, and the ways in which our traumas linger, with easily one of the most thought-provoking endings I've come across in years.
Ruth Ware is writing the kinds of murder mysteries that I think Dame Agatha herself would enjoy, and One By One is another excellent addition to the genre. Ware expertly builds the tension chapter by chapter (and body by body), weaves in just enough misdirection to keep you guessing, and finishes with a solution that is both intricate and well-constructed. Perfect for a long, lazy weekend.
I inhaled this book over the course of one afternoon. Masood balances the intertwining narratives of a relatively-privileged Pakistani immigrant and the far more painful story of a young woman fleeing war-torn Iraq, and through both of these stories, he weaves in one perfectly-rendered detail of life as an immigrant in modern America after another. By turns heartbreaking and hilarious, when it isn’t both at once.
Skinless men crawl from fissures in the coal-seamed earth. A nameless monster, half deer and half... something else, stalks the woods. And two queer teens try desperately to remember something that the whole of their quiet little town wants them to forget. Terrifying, tender, and heartbreaking in equal measure, Machado’s latest is a gorgeously illustrated testament to her mastery of the macabre.
Anderson calls the history of the CIA’s early years “a tragedy in three acts,” and by the time I finished this incredibly well-crafted work, I could not have agreed more. Masterfully blending the stories of four men who were instrumental in the agency’s founding with an overarching narrative about the missed opportunities and failures of American foreign policy after the end of World War II, this tragedy is a must-read.