Monday June 21st, 2010

The Beat

A weekly roundup of noteworthy reviews from other sources.

glasierJed Perl writes about the deep roots of the circus’ appeal, and says that a new collection of Frederick W. Glasier’s circus photos from the first quarter of the 20th century is “one of the most beautiful art books of recent years.” . . . John Self enjoys a “witty, digressive” book about British roads. (“On Roads: A Hidden History is catnip for anyone, like me, who regrets that the Black Box Recorder song ‘The English Motorway System’ was actually a metaphor for a stagnant relationship and not just about the roads.”) . . . Ben Greenman’s latest collection takes the form of fictional letters between characters. Steve Almond says the stories are “as assured and persuasive” as any he’s read in a long time: “Greenman has the ear of a mimic, the mind of a philosopher and the timing of a stand-up comic.” . . . George Packer reviews Peter Beinart’s new book, in which Beinart looks back at a century of American history and regrets his own strong support for the Iraq War. (“The Icarus Syndrome finds the ground littered with Peter Beinarts, lying amid the remnants of large ideas and unearned confidence.”) . . . Roy Blount, Jr., takes issue with a book that celebrates the global triumph of the English language.