The Signal And The Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail – But Some Don’t by Nate Silver. (Penguin) Silver has developed groundbreaking methods for predicting the performance of baseball players and the outcome of political races; here he assumes the role of public statistician as he investigates the world of forecasting, from finance to weather to epidemiology. Arguing for a sharper recognition of “the difference between what we know and what we think we know,” he proposes strategies for distinguishing true signals from a universe of noisy data.
The Ballad Of A Small Player by Lawrence Osborne. (Hogarth) In Osborne’s feverish novel, a corrupt English lawyer escapes prosecution by fleeing to the East and taking refuge in a series of louche, dimly lit hotels. Under the name Lord Doyle, he tries to rid himself of embezzled cash at the baccarat tables of Macau while drinking himself into oblivion.
Call Me Burroughs: A Life by Barry Miles. (Twelve) An original cult figure of the Beat movement, William S. Burroughs (1914-97), with the publication of “Naked Lunch,” became a guru of ’60s youth culture, influencing an array of writers, musicians and filmmakers. Miles’ book rests on monumental research and extensive taped interviews.
Havisham by Ronald Frame. (Picador) Before she became the haunting Miss Havisham of Dickens’ “Great Expectations,” she was Catherine, a young woman with all of her dreams ahead of her. Frame provides an illuminating backstory and inner life, tracing Catherine Havisham’s journey from unassuming heiress to unhinged spinster.
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Unremarried Widow: A Memoir by Artis Henderson. (Simon & Schuster) On Nov. 6, 2006, the Apache helicopter carrying Henderson’s husband, Miles, crashed in Iraq, leaving the 26-year-old Henderson, in military terms, an “unremarried widow.” In unsparing detail she documents her loss, from the investigation into the fatal helicopter crash to the funeral to the distinctive, sometimes contentious, bonds that form between bereaved military spouses.
All Our Names by Dinaw Mengestu. (Vintage) With sadness and much hard truth, Mengestu’s novel, set in the early 1970s, looks at a relationship of shared dependencies between Helen, a Midwestern social worker, and a bereft African immigrant who has taken his best friend’s name, Isaac, and fled the violence of Uganda.
China’s Second Continent: How A Million Migrants Are Building A New Empire In Africa by Howard W. French. (Vintage) French delves into the lives of Chinese migrants building careers in places like Liberia, Senegal and Mozambique. For all the debate about China’s intentions (imperialist or not?) and business practices on the continent (corrupt or not?), a crucial part of the discussion, French argues, has been ignored: the lives of those Chinese who have uprooted themselves to work in Africa.
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