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John Lewis Gaddis
George Kennan, the author of the famous “long telegram” detailing nefarious Soviet ambitions, was the father of Cold War foreign policy. But he wasn’t a proud papa for long, ultimately loathing the arms race, third-world proxy wars, and other aspects of containment. Historian Gaddis traces this evolution in one of the biggest foreign-policy books of the year, George F. Kennan: An American Life. Woodrow Wilson International Center.
A former City Paper staffer who went on to win a Pulitzer Prize and a Macarthur “Genius” grant for writing about domestic poverty, Boo lived in the slums of Mumbai to write about the underside of India’s boom. The resulting book, Behind the Beautiful Forevers, is as Dickensian as its glittering, squalid host city—a perfectly paced social novel that happens to be all true and based on hard-hitting reporting. Politics & Prose.
If Thomas Frank didn’t exist, some conniving billionaire looking for a gap in the market would invent him: A brainy leftist who can rant as well as any drooling Fox News contributor. Does the author of What’s the Matter with Kansas? paint with a broad brush? Yes. But his bafflement over why Americans aren’t outraged about an economic system that’s rigged against nearly all of us is real in Pity The Billionaire, and much needed. Aspen Institute.
Spiegel’s Maus took readers into the Holocaust and its psychiatric aftermath. Now MetaMaus takes us to a rather less famous corner: Comic culture, a field the groundbreaking Maus utterly transformed. The new book combines scrapbook, diary, and making-of documentary, and critics say it’s every bit as stunning as the original. Jewish Community Center.
These days, we’re most accustomed to seeing Shiller’s name on his eponymous, perpetually tumbling, home-price index. Now, in Finance and the Good Society, the guy who correctly predicted the Internet bubble and the housing collapse cautions that finance can be our friend—if only we can harness it to benefit society. Alas, that hasn’t happened under the putatively progressive present government, so there’s reason to doubt. But Shiller’s been smarter than the rest of us before. Politics & Prose. —Michael Schaffer