Worldly Philosopher: The Odyssey Of Albert O. Hirschman by Jeremy Adelman. (Princeton University) Shaped “by modern horrors and hopes,” Hirschman (1915-2012) spent his life in constant motion. Born in Berlin, he studied at the London School of Economics; fought in the Spanish Civil War; helped spirit thousands of refugees out of Nazi-occupied France; and blended economics, politics and culture in a pathbreaking 30-year academic career. Adelman’s superb biography brings every twist and turn of this story to life.
The Cairo Affair by Olen Steinhauer. (Picador) The murder of a midlevel American diplomat in Hungary has repercussions for the intelligence community across North Africa in Steinhauer’s novel, a complex tale of the Arab Spring, WikiLeaks, CIA deception and a marriage in turmoil.
The Empire Of Necessity: Slavery, Freedom, And Deception In The New World by Greg Grandin. (Picador) Grandin’s transnational history of slavery in the Americas reconstructs the 1804 maritime slave rebellion made famous in Herman Melville’s novel “Benito Cereno”: from the slaves’ initial capture in West Africa to their eventual execution in South America. In the Book Review, Andrew Delbanco praised “Empire” as “a remarkable feat of research.”
The Late Parade: Poems by Adam Fitzgerald. (Liveright) In this debut, cultural references are linked in startling ways. One poem takes from Hieronymus Bosch and the New York School poet James Schuyler; another refers to “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” as well as the Abkhazian culture of the eastern Black Sea area and the artist Marcel Duchamp.
Out Of The Woods: A Memoir Of Wayfinding by Lynn Darling. (Harper Perennial) When her only child left for college, Darling’s fear of getting lost dovetailed with her fear of losing herself altogether. To address both conditions, she moved to off-the-main-road Vermont; there began her inquiry into how we navigate, complete with crash courses in map-reading and tales of Inuits who found their way home by listening to bird songs.
Love And Treasure by Ayelet Waldman. (Anchor) Waldman places a trainload of artwork, jewelry and other family treasures stolen by the Nazis at the heart of this multigenerational tale set in Salzburg and Budapest. Seventy years after he was assigned to guard the train as a young Army officer in the war’s chaotic aftermath, a guilt-ridden Jack Wiseman gives a pendant to his granddaughter and charges her with returning it to its rightful owner.
The Real North Korea: Life And Politics In The Failed Stalinist Utopia by Andrei Lankov. (Oxford University) Using imagery reminiscent of Orwell’s “1984,” Lankov, a Soviet-born scholar who studied in Pyongyang during the Cold War, shows how North Korea’s leaders have used diplomacy – including nuclear threats – to extract support from other nations, and how its citizens cope under such oppression and poverty.
New York Times