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The King of Vodka: The Story of Pyotr Smirnov and the Upheaval of an Empire by Linda Himelstein

Despite a lack of documentation on Pyotr Arsenievich Smirnov’s early years, Linda Himelstein’s heavily sourced “The King of Vodka, the Story of Pyotr Smirnov and the Upheaval of an Empire” creates an entertaining narrative of the Smirnov dynasty. Smirnov’s rags-to-riches story, as told by Himelstein, includes re-created scenes based on auxiliary history (especially regarding Smirnov’s childhood) as well as … Continue reading

The Prince of the Marshes – and Other Occupational Hazards of a Year in Iraq by Rory Stewart

During a recent appearance on PBS’ Bill Moyers Journal, author Rory Stewart said, “Pakistan is much more of a threat than Afghanistan to U.S. national security. Al Qaeda is in Pakistan, not in Afghanistan.” But in 2003, the war against Al Qaeda was being fought in Iraq – and Stewart was there. In his book, … Continue reading

The Great Minnesota Governor’s Race – 2010

In what is being touted one of the most crowded races in Minnesota history the list of candidates for governor is full of good people, many of whom have already been out on the trail for some time. The straw polling has begun although most seasoned political junkies would say it’s premature to put much … Continue reading

2009 Nobel Prize for Literature: And the winner is…Herta Mueller

The Swedish Academy for the Nobel Prize in Literature has awarded the honor of 2009 Nobel Laureate to German author Herta Mueller. Mueller was born in Romania, Nitzkydorf and is known for writing about life under the Communist Romanian regime of Nicolae Ceausesc. “I am very surprised and still cannot believe it,” Mueller said in … Continue reading

Hilary Mantel is the Winner of the 2009 Man Booker Prize for Wolf Hall

At William Hill, Hilary Mantel was thought to be the Man Booker Prize  frontrunner for her novel of Tudor England, Wolf Hall, (harphercollins) and she is, indeed, the winner. According to Booker Chairman James Naughtie, “‘[Wolf Hall] probes the mysteries of power by examining and describing the meticulous dealings in Henry VIII’s court, revealing in thrilling prose how … Continue reading

Stitches, a memoir by David Small: A Must-Read

Is it possible that some people are simply incapable of loving their own children? David Small’s incredible new memoir, Stitches will have you asking that question and leave you shaking your head. Breaking new ground, Small tells the harrowing story of his childhood in graphic-novel form, and the result is a must-read you shouldn’t miss. His thoughtful illustrations reveal a hauntingly vulnerable little … Continue reading