Friday September 18th, 2009

The Beat

A weekly roundup of noteworthy reviews from other sources.

dancing-in-the-dark-coverCaleb Crain reviews Morris Dickstein’s Dancing in the Dark, “a bighearted, rambling new survey of American culture in the nineteen-thirties.” Comparing it to Dickstein’s cultural history of the 1960s, Gates of Eden, Dwight Garner calls Dancing in the Dark “a heavier, slower, more lumbering book, at times a hard-drive-emptying round of plot summaries and historical filler.” . . . Louisa Gilder calls a new biography of eccentric physicist Paul Dirac “a thought-provoking meditation on human achievement, limitations and the relations between the two.” . . . Seed magazine also recommends the Dirac bio (“a tour de force filled with insight and revelation. [A]n unprecedented and gripping view of Dirac not only as a scientist, but also as a human being.”), along with several other recent science books. . . . Dexter Filkins says that Jon Krakauer is a “masterly writer and reporter,” but that his book about the death of Pat Tillman feels padded, at least a hundred pages too long. . . . Steve Almond marvels at recent right-wing bestsellers, “in which the mundane terrors of cultural dislocation are recast as riveting epics of paranoia.”