January 26, 2013 

Hope: A Tragedy by Shalom Auslander. (Riverhead) Auslander’s previous books – the story collection “Beware of God” and the memoir “Foreskin’s Lament” – are propelled by the author’s struggle with the constraints of his Orthodox Jewish background. In “Hope: A Tragedy,” his first novel, hilarity alternates with pain as a doleful family man in upstate New York finds a prickly geriatric squatter in his attic: She claims to be Anne Frank and is working on a novel to eclipse her girlhood diary.

The Partnership: Five Cold Warriors and Their Quest to Ban the Bomb by Philip Taubman. (Harper Perennial) Taubman tells the fascinating stories of five U.S. national security mandarins – Henry A. Kissinger, George P. Shultz, William J. Perry, Sam Nunn and Sidney D. Drell – who, in the twilight of their careers, stunned their peers by campaigning to scrap all nuclear arms.

Home by Toni Morrison. (Vintage International) Encapsulating the themes that have inspired Morrison’s fiction, this haunting novel follows Frank Money, a black Korean War veteran discharged from an integrated Army into a segregated homeland, as he returns to Georgia to rescue his sister.

The Ice Balloon: S.A. Andree and the Heroic Age of Arctic Exploration by Alec Wilkinson. (Vintage) In 1897, the Swedish explorer Salomon August Andree attempted to fly a hydrogen balloon to the North Pole. He and his companions were never seen again. (Andree’s expedition diaries were discovered 33 years later.) Wilkinson interweaves this thrilling account with a history of Arctic exploration. An Empire of Ice: Scott, Shackleton, and the Heroic Age of Antarctic Science by Edward J. Larson. (Yale University) Larson puts the Antarctic voyages of Roald Amundsen, Robert Scott and Ernest Shackleton in a larger scientific context: The important thing is not who reached the pole first, but who did the best field research along the way.

By Blood by Ellen Ullman. (Picador) Installed in a rented office in 1970s San Francisco, a disgraced professor listens in on – and becomes obsessed with – the sessions between the therapist next door and one of her patients in Ullman’s smart, slippery novel.

Revolution 2.0. The Power of the People Is Greater Than the People in Power: A Memoir by Wael Ghonim. (Mariner/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) In June 2010, Ghonim, an Egyptian-born Google executive, created a Facebook page to protest a man’s death at the hands of the Egyptian police. The page, “We Are All Khaled Said,” helped ignite an uprising and turned Ghonim into a leading voice of the Arab Spring. His engrossing memoir takes readers inside the movement and analyzes the impact of social media.

The Past by Neil Jordan. (Soft Skull) Originally published in 1980, Jordan’s first novel unfolds against a historical backdrop spanning the Easter Rebellion and the early days of the Irish Free State, and revolves around a man’s patient, stubborn reconstruction of his parents’ mysterious history.

New York Times

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