Book Reviews

'Anti-Education'

Editors Paul Reitter and Chad Wellmon contend that Nietzsche’s impassioned critique of 19th century education sheds light on the decline of education in the 21st.

Anwar al-Awlaki, American

Scott Shane's telling of the U.S.-born Muslim preacher-turned-terrorist and his surveillance by the FBI reveals that the calculus for terrorism is political.

'Finale: A Novel of the Reagan Years'

In his latest, Thomas Mallon turns real-life figures like Nixon, Reagan, and Nancy Reagan's astrologer into characters as skillfully as he creates fictional ones.

Top Books of 2015

Out of the more than eighty book reviews Commonweal published in 2015, these twelve were the most read, discussed, and shared on social media.

'Between the World and Me'

In Ta-Nehisi Coates’s interpretation of race in America, hope doesn't fit into the narrative—something James Baldwin, to whom he's compared, wouldn't leave out.

'Once in a Great City'

What fascinates Maraniss about Detroit more than its ruin is how central its story is to the broader course of U.S. history—Motown, the local Mob, the auto industry.

'Go Set a Watchman'

'Go Set Watchman' shows that though Atticus Finch defended a black man in court, he was still a man of his time—on the white citizens council, resisting integration.

'A History of Loneliness'

John Boyne’s new novel pays attention to the circumstances of priestly life in real-world Catholic Ireland, asking: How does one be a good priest under suspicion?

'Utopia, Limited'

Anahid Nersessian argues that Romanticism dramatizes the “desirability of constraint.” Her book on how British Romantics imagined "utopia" powerfully does the same.

Mediterranean Travels

Historical reminders of how the Mediterranean connects Europe, Asia, and Africa at least as often as it separates the three continents from one another.

Conversation Starters

Reasoning with rants, processing trauma through painting, and Tweeting with the pontiff: Maybe there's a long German word to capture the experience?
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