New Books Network

Charles J. Shields, “And So It Goes. Kurt Vonnegut, A Life” (Henry Holt, 2011)
The public image of Kurt Vonnegut is that of a crusty, irascible old man. Someone with whom one would want to drink, but never ever fall in love. The Vonnegut we meet in Charles J. Shields’s insightful new biography, And So It Goes. Kurt Vonnegut: A Life (Henry Holt, 2011),... Read More
Rosamund Bartlett, “Tolstoy: A Russia Life” (Houghton Mifflin, 2011)
I vividly recall a time in my life–especially my late teens and early twenties–when I thought I could be anyone but had no idea which anyone to be. For this I blame (or credit) my liberal arts education, which convinced me that there was really nothing I couldn’t master but... Read More
Sean Wilentz, “Bob Dylan in America” (Doubleday, 2010)
From carrier of the folk torch to electric rebel, lyrical genius to literary thief, white-faced minstrel to born-again Christian-Jewish singer of Christmas carols, Bob Dylan is an enigmatic giant of American popular music. In Bob Dylan in America (Doubleday, 2010), historian Sean Wilentz presents Dylan as an artist deeply rooted... Read More
Jennifer Frost, “Hedda Hopper’s Hollywood: Celebrity Gossip and American Conservatism” (NYU Press, 2011)
Any pop culture scholar worth her salt will tell you that discussion of Beyonce’s baby bump or Charlie Sheen’s unique sex life is far from apolitical, but, at times, gossip columnists have engaged more transparently in political debate. Hedda Hopper, Hollywood insider and conservative hat enthusiast, was one such columnist.... Read More
Lester K. Spence, “Stare in the Darkness: The Limits of Hip-hop and Black Politics” (University of Minnesota Press, 2011)
Hip-hop has, within a short time span, moved from a free-flowing expression of urban youth to a global–and highly marketable–musical genre. Its influence in culture, fashion, film, and music is ubiquitous, and theories about hip-hop’s importance in the political sphere abound. But what, exactly, is the relationship between hip-hop and... Read More