Page by Page: Book Reviews

Life Played By Ear

A new biography of Louis Armstrong refuses to draw a firm distinction between art and commercial entertainment, and argues that Armstrong himself made no such distinction, indeed would hardly have understood it.

Finding Faults

The Earth moves in mysterious ways, and even once altered the flow of the Mississippi River. Conevery Bolton Valencius’ new book on Missouri’s New Madrid fault shows how those tremors spread through culture and history. Read it, and be prepared when “The Big One” next hits.”

Magical Autobiography Tour

Alan Dershowitz’s autobiography may have you searching for an exit, but not before submitting to the gargantuan pull of his self-regard, and hard-earned status as a lawyer of legend.

The Show of Shows

Kevin Cook writes an informative, insightful biography of Comedian Flip Wilson, the first black entertainer to successfully host a TV variety show. Gerald Early reviews Flip: The Inside Story of TV’s First Black Superstar.

Food Fights

The short, but dense, Something to Chew On serves up no-nonsense, stimulating fare over a range of food controversies, from GMOs to weight-loss and world hunger. Digest it if you dare.

District Restoration

Working against sometimes clunky prose, but with an eye on posterity, Washington D.C.’s most (in)famous mayor tells his story of power, the temptations of power, and his legacy forgotten amidst scandal.

Drawing From the Welles

The majesty, intelligence, pettiness and prowess of the film world’s famous boy genius and might-have-been is revealed—appetite and all—in the tape recorded pages of Henry Jaglom’s My Lunches With Orson.

Django Done Right

Despite moments of tone-deafness, the graphic novel treatment of Django animates the ethical puzzle of Tarantino’s film with static vigor, and color to spare.

Tales From TV Queendom

“Abnormally Normal” is the leading label of Melissa Joan Hart’s new autobiography, but it’s mostly normally abnormal in ways we’ve come to expect from Hollywood starlets.

Raised in Vigilance

Watch Everything explores the career and times of U.S. District Judge Charles A. Shaw as one of three brothers growing up in racially-charged St. Louis, when personal tenacity and collective caution where a way of life.