Page by Page: Book Reviews

John F. Kennedy, the Fair-haired Catholic Boy of American Politics

John F. Kennedy, our 35th president, was assassinated in Dallas in 1963. He had won the presidency in 1960 in a very close election. His martyrdom created a Camelot image to his presidency and many were moved by the young family he left behind. Almost sixty years ago, and in the earlier part of the […]

Books, Family, Loss, and Growth

Throughout Read Until You Understand Griffin entwines her personal account of life as a Black woman in America—tragic encounters with police, teachers who either misrepresent her or open her mind to new thoughts—with those books that underscore the way in which her life functions as a synecdoche for her Black, Philadelphian neighbors.

From Yiddish Theater Actor to Mainstream Film Auteur

Maura Spiegel’s approach simultaneously favors the intimate and the sensational, painting a portrait of America’s most unassuming cinematic auteur that emphasizes both his workaday normalcy and the rarified place he occupies in the nation’s artistic and cultural landscape. It is an unabashedly hagiographic work.

Twelfth Night Blues

For Black Americans, the questions might be asked, what does Christmas mean to us? And how can we make Christmas something usable for us? If, as Frederick Douglass argues, Christmas was tainted by the power politics of slavery, as the stories in Collier-Thomas’s collection make clear, it was equally tainted by Jim Crow and segregation.

Headshots

Written by a quondam amateur boxer and celebrated ring scribe, Damage is a fluid combination of medical history, scientific facts, and personal narratives. Half of the gracefully written text is focused on the connection or, much more commonly, the lack thereof between the medical and boxing communities.

You Can Go Home Again

What immediately stands out is Schvey’s utter command of his material. The book will appeal to theatergoers and scholars interested in one of America’s greatest playwrights and his complicated relationship to a city he called home for some two decades, St. Louis.

Thanksgiving or the Ritual of Gratitude

Giving thanks, as Melanie Kirkpatrick reminds us, is an American preoccupation, a powerful religious and civic expression of our nation. Kirkpatrick’s fear is that the left’s attempt to banish gratitude unravels our country by denying it any dimension of humanity except its quest for power.

Trick and Treat

Calling the Spirits is a nifty survey of the western world’s supposed interactions with the spirits of the dead. Lisa Morton’s book reveals that our quest for ghosts is an expression of humanity, a way to cope with how overwhelmed we are when we lose someone close to us, how unbearable it is to think that the person is gone forever.