The Saturday Essay

From Review

Highlights

  • The Vaccine Race—and 20 Other Books to Read

    The human cost of ending rubella; Europe at the crossroads; the doughboys go to hell; when America opened its doors; Stalin in your living room; the heroism of old age; the death of an all-American town; rebooting the Big Bang; and much more.

  • Book Reviews

  • Subscriber Content Read Preview

    [image]

    The Death of the All-American Town

    Brian Alexander’s “Glass House: The 1% Economy and the Shattering of the All-American Town” documents a single town in our fractured country. It is a devastating portrait.

  • Subscriber Content Read Preview

    [image]

    Searching for God at the Center of the Big Bang

    What quantum mechanics can tell us about the possibility of life after death and resurrection. Peter Woit reviews “A Big Bang in a Little Room: The Quest to Create New Universes” by Zeeya Merali.

  • Subscriber Content Read Preview

    [image]

    Tom Shippey on the Best New Science Fiction

    Elan Mastai’s “All Our Wrong Todays” explains that we were living in a techno-utopia with unlimited energy and no poverty, war or disease—until a bumbling time-traveler sent us down the wrong track.

  • Subscriber Content Read Preview

    [image]

    Old Age Is a Story of Heroism

    Margaret Drabble, at 77, has brought out a book about the indignities, the indulgences and, most of all, the duties of growing old. Sam Sacks reviews “The Dark Flood Rises” and novels by J.M. Coetzee and Karen An-Hwei Lee.

  • Subscriber Content Read Preview

    [image]

    Stalin’s Ghost Is in the Living Room

    “The Year of the Comet” by Sergei Lebedev explores Russia’s national amnesia through the eyes of a 10-year-old boy.

  • Subscriber Content Read Preview

    [image]

    The Best New Children’s Books

    Meghan Cox Gurdon reviews new books about poodles in Paris, the golden hour and reviving the language of angels.

  • Subscriber Content Read Preview

    [image]

    The Doughboys Go to Hell

    The soldiers of the 79th were forced to fight for over three days and nights on a single meal and two canteens of water. In “With Their Bare Hands: General Pershing, the 79th Division, and the Battle for Montfaucon” Gene Fax masterfully recounts their nightmarish struggle.

  • Subscriber Content Read Preview

    [image]

    When America Opened Its Doors

    For the founders, refugees were ideal citizens: They’d fled tyranny and would be a bulwark against it. Kathleen DuVal reviews “American Sanctuary: Mutiny, Martyrdom, and National Identity in the Age of Revolution” by A. Roger Ekirch.

  • Subscriber Content Read Preview

    [image]

    The Human Cost of a Life-Saving Vaccine

    An aborted fetus from Sweden, used without the mother’s consent, led to a vaccine for rubella and spurred the biotech gold rush. John J. Ross reviews “The Vaccine Race: Science, Politics, and the Human Costs of Defeating Disease” by Meredith Wadman.

  • Subscriber Content Read Preview

    [image]

    Europe at the Crossroads

    What does the future of the Continent look like? Two authors, Guy Verhofstadt and James Kirchick, have very different ideas. James Traub reviews “Europe’s Last Change” and “The End of Europe.”

  • Subscriber Content Read Preview

    [image]

    The Best New Mysteries

    Tom Nolan reviews “Shining City,” a Washington, D.C., thriller starring a former Special Forces soldier and a wannabe Supreme Court judge, and “Running” by Cara Hoffman.

  • Subscriber Content Read Preview

    [image]

    Science Under Stalin

    Soviet scientists developed the laser, pioneered semiconductors and launched the first satellite. Their advances were undone by political terror. Loren Graham reviews “Stalin and the Scientists: A History of Triumph and Tragedy 1905-1953” by Simon Ings.

  • Subscriber Content Read Preview

    [image]

    In Defense of Upturned Noses

    The Oxford scientist Janet Vaughan, from her great height of intellectual snobbery, dismissed Thatcher as “a perfectly adequate chemist.” Henrik Bering reviews “The New Book of Snobs: A Definitive Guide to Modern Snobbery” by D.J. Taylor.

  • Subscriber Content Read Preview

    [image]

    China: A Modern Babel

    “I speak Chinese” is a statement with little meaning: Linguists have identified seven mutually incomprehensible Chinese languages. Peter Neville-Hadley reviews “A Billion Voices” by David Moser.

  • Subscriber Content Read Preview

    [image]

    A Generation Living for Likes

    Only 19% of surveyed college students agreed that “I am open about my emotions on social media.” A full 73% said they always try to appear happy. Laura Vanderkam reviews “The Happiness Effect” by Donna Freitas.

  • Subscriber Content Read Preview

    [image]

    An Undercover Evangelical in Manhattan

    The author worries about what her literary colleagues would think if they knew she shared devotional reading with George W. Bush. Micah Mattix reviews “My Utmost: A Devotional Memoir” by Macy Halford.

  • Subscriber Content Read Preview

    [image]

    Tom Hayden: Crusader for the
    Communists

    When Joan Baez organized a petition to protest Hanoi’s racist pogrom against Vietnam’s ethnic-Chinese minority, Hayden defended Hanoi. Stephen J. Morris reviews “Hell No: The Forgotten Power of the Vietnam Peace Movement” by Tom Hayden.

  • Subscriber Content Read Preview

    [image]

    The Man Who Made Sherlock

    Would Arthur Conan Doyle recognize Robert Downey Jr.’s roughneck Holmes or Benedict Cumberbatch’s too-hip-for-words detective? Jon Lellenberg reviews “Arthur and Sherlock: Conan Doyle and the Creation of Holmes” by Michael Sims.

  • Subscriber Content Read Preview

    [image]

    Five Best: James Naughtie

    The special correspondent for BBC News and the author, most recently, of “Paris Spring” on spy novels.

  • Subscriber Content Read Preview

    [image]

    Meghan Cox Gurdon on the Best New Children’s Books

    A celebration of construction sites, the love ballad of a bad dog, exploring dreamland and more.

  • Subscriber Content Read Preview

    [image]

    Tom Shippey on the Best New Science Fiction

    Norman Spinrad’s novel imagines a wilder Mardi Gras and with it the idea of the “People’s Police of New Orleans”: cops looking the other way on minor crime, especially vice.

  • Subscriber Content Read Preview

    [image]

    The Cannibals Among Us

    Under the stones of civilizations lie the bones of human feasts. Felipe Fernández-Armesto reviews “Cannibalism: A Perfectly Natural History” by Bill Schutt.

  • Subscriber Content Read Preview

    [image]

    George Saunders’s Gospel of Compassion

    Literature’s patron saint of goodness offers a moving and heartfelt treatise about grief in “Lincoln in the Bardo.”

  • Subscriber Content Read Preview

    [image]

    The Political Mr. Shakespeare

    Shakespeare’s plays can be read simply for their beauty and power, but they are also reactions to Tudor politics and the controversies of his day. Paul A. Cantor reviews “How Shakespeare Put Politics on the Stage: Power and Succession in the History Plays” by Peter Lake.

  • Subscriber Content Read Preview

    [image]

    Elizabeth Bishop’s Many Arts

    We’ve long known about the poet’s same-sex orientation, her lifelong alcoholism, the death of her father and the madness of her mother. But Megan Marshall’s “Elizabeth Bishop: A Miracle for Breakfast” is full of revelations about the brilliant woman.

  • Subscriber Content Read Preview

    [image]

    Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier and More Creative

    Nature not only eases anxiety but improves digestion—one reason campfire cooking tastes so good. Danny Heitman reviews “The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative” by Florence Williams.

  • Subscriber Content Read Preview

    [image]

    A Road Trip Through the Heart of Darkness

    Why would anyone want to cross the Congo unarmed, on a tight budget and in an aged Land Rover? Anthony Sattin reviews “Crossing the Congo: Over Land and Water in a Hard Place” by Mike Martin, Chloe Baker and Charlie Hatch-Barnwell.

  • Subscriber Content Read Preview

    [image]

    The Best New Mysteries

    Tom Nolan reviews “Home Sweet Home” by April Smith and “The Dime” by Kathleen Kent.

  • Subscriber Content Read Preview

    [image]

    In Defense of Main Street

    The GOP has long been the party of Sam’s Club, opposing regulations that push prices up. But Americans want better jobs, not just cheap T-shirts. Edward Glaeser reviews “The Great Equalizer” by David M. Smick.

  • Subscriber Content Read Preview

    [image]

    A President’s Grief Inspires ‘Lincoln in the Bardo’

    Abraham Lincoln’s personal tragedy inspires best-selling writer George Saunders’s debut novel ‘Lincoln in the Bardo’.

  • Subscriber Content Read Preview

    [image]

    The King of the Rat Squad

    For two decades, Campisi was in charge of the NYPD’s ‘cheese-eating rats’—the cops whose mission was to bust fellow officers gone rogue. Edward Kosner reviews “Blue on Blue” by Charles Campisi.

  • Subscriber Content Read Preview

    [image]

    Outwitting the FBI and the SEC

    Steve Cohen’s fund was once the most successful on Wall Street. Then it pleaded guilty to insider trading. But Cohen was never charged. David McClintick reviews “Black Edge: Inside Information, Dirty Money, and the Quest to Bring Down the Most Wanted Man on Wall Street” by Sheelah Kolhatkar.

  • Subscriber Content Read Preview

    [image]

    Forget About Being Happy

    The search for happiness is destined to fail. But meaning, whether it comes from religious faith or from elsewhere, can give us the energy and the will to live. Naomi Duguid reviews “The Power of Meaning” by Emily Esfahani Smith.

  • Subscriber Content Read Preview

    [image]

    How to Spread Our Values

    “Why Wilson Matters” by Tony Smith is a painstaking, take-no-prisoners attack on those who believe that America’s historical experience can be duplicated everywhere.

Fashion

Travel

Autos

Sports

Popular Now What's This?
Close

Content engaging our readers now, with additional prominence accorded if the story is rapidly gaining attention. Our WSJ algorithm comprises 30% page views, 20% Facebook, 20% Twitter, 20% email shares and 10% comments.

Best-Selling Books List

Follow Books News

Partner Center
An Advertising Feature