Book reviews

Review: Ruth Reichl’s ‘Save Me the Plums’

She ate, she wrote, she conquered

Ruth Reichl /For Ruth Reichl, one memoir is not enough. Her early years were covered in Tender at the Bone. Then came her career as an L.A. Times food critic in Comfort Me with Apples (where she also confesses to infidelity). In Garlic and Sapphires she chronicles her stint as the New York Times's often incognito restaurant reviewer. For You Mom, Finally grapples with Reichl's relationship with her mentally unstable mother. And now there's Save Me the Plums, which covers Reichl's tenure at Gourmet—right up to its untimely demise.

Review: Roger L. Simon’s ‘The GOAT’

A tennis pro pays a steep price to be the Greatest of All Time

It was three or four years ago that the word GOAT finally gnawed through the fence of minor sports blogs and started gamboling in the greener fields of television and newspaper commentary—GOAT, that is, as an acronym for "Greatest of All Time."

Review: ‘It Came From Something Awful’ by Dale Beran

The effects of the computer revolution can be malevolent

We're now a good 40 years into the computer revolution, and maybe the best way to understand what's happened would be to construct a scatter plot of the results. We need to graph everything onto a Cartesian plane, in other words, with a vertical axis for the personal effects computers have had and a horizontal axis for the social effects.

Review: ‘The Notorious Ben Hecht: Iconoclastic Writer and Militant Zionist’ by Julien Gorbach

A friend of terrorists and gangsters

Julien Gorbach's The Notorious Ben Hecht: Iconoclastic Writer and Militant Zionist is the second book to come out this year on the reporter, playwright, screenwriter, essayist, novelist, polemicist, and pioneer of the gangster movie and the screwball comedy. Hecht is a more remarkable character than any he created in his hugely successful Hollywood career. (Gorbach's book has received far less attention than the first biography, Adina Hoffman's Ben Hecht: Fighting Words, Moving Pictures, largely because she beat him to market.)

Review: ‘For the Good of the Game’

Bud Selig's memoir is more juiced than juicy

All right, let's get the bad news out of the way, right off the bat: This is a disaster of a book, by a man who was a disaster at his job. Oh, no doubt, Bud Selig truly loved the sport he would head from 1992 to 2015. He loved it to pieces. If you want proof of baseball's resilience, it can be found in the fact that the game somehow survived the butterfingered adoration of the hamfisted car dealer from Milwaukee.

Review: Kevin Williamson’s ‘The Smallest Minority’

The gloves are off

Kevin Williamson is having fun. "You want to do this? Okay, let's f—ing do this," you can almost hear him muttering. In the resultant extended, hilarious, quixotic rant, he takes the gloves off in the fight to get everyone to put their gloves back on and think, damnit! He's going to war in defense of David Frenchism.

Review: ‘The Vagabonds’

We all live like Henry Ford now

We live like kings these days, even while we bemoan our state like beggars. Generally speaking, the members of the American middle class possess a material splendor that would put to shame an 8th-century chieftain. Or a 12th-century princeling. Or even an early 20th-century industrialist.

Review: ‘Justice on Trial’

We won't be fooled again

With tensions high as the Senate Judiciary Committee prepared to vote on advancing Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation, senators packed into an anteroom—and turmoil ensued.

Review: ‘The Age of Addiction’ by David Courtwright

The new prohibitionism

America is a nation of habits. Roughly one in four Americans has drunk to excess in the past month. Twenty-eight million smoke cigarettes daily; 11 million have a pack-a-day habit. Ten million are addicted to gambling. Twenty-six percent of U.S. adults are online "almost constantly." We spend roughly six hours a day watching "video" of all kinds, including that consumed by the 80 percent of men and 26 percent of women who are weekly porn users.