25 Great Book Reviews From the Past 125 Years

To celebrate the Book Review’s 125th anniversary, we’re dipping into the archives to revisit our most thrilling, memorable and thought-provoking coverage.


The Determined Siblings Who Became America’s First Women Doctors

Elizabeth and Emily Blackwell, the subjects of “The Doctors Blackwell,” by Janice P. Nimura, succeeded in practicing medicine against innumerable odds.


Looking at History Through the Deadly Conflicts Over Territory

Simon Winchester’s “Land” is a sweeping survey of territorial battles throughout history and the injustices they have spawned.


Adoption Used to Be Hush-Hush. This Book Amplifies the Human Toll.

In “American Baby,” Gabrielle Glaser unravels family secrets and considers the motivations that wove them into American life in the first place.


Was the Constitution a Pro-Slavery Document?

In “The Crooked Path to Abolition,” James Oakes shows how Abraham Lincoln relied on America’s founding texts to chart a path to abolition.


Who Was Nick Before ‘Gatsby’?

The novelist Michael Farris Smith imagines the beginnings of an iconic character in American literature.


10 New Books We Recommend This Week

Suggested reading from critics and editors at The New York Times.


What Has Gone Wrong Between Iran and the United States?

John Ghazvinian’s “America and Iran” offers an insightful history into 300 years of troubled interactions between the two countries.


Cold-Calling Strangers Taught Mateo Askaripour How to Be a Writer

The debut novelist got his start in sales, which served as inspiration for his best seller, “Black Buck.”


Brad Taylor Has a Theory About What Makes for Good Thrillers

“Characters, characters, characters.”


The Essential Octavia Butler

She created vivid new worlds to reveal truths about our own. Here’s where to start with her books.


‘Let the Lord Sort Them: The Rise and Fall of the Death Penalty,’ by Maurice Chammah: An Excerpt

An excerpt from “Let the Lord Sort Them: The Rise and Fall of the Death Penalty,” by Maurice Chammah


‘No Heaven for Good Boys,’ by Keisha Bush: An Excerpt

An excerpt from “No Heaven for Good Boys,” by Keisha Bush


Book Review: ‘Let the Lord Sort Them,’ by Maurice Chammah

“Let the Lord Sort Them,” by Maurice Chammah, relates the history of capital punishment in America, and why it is on its way out.


Did an Alien Life-Form Do a Drive-By of Our Solar System in 2017?

“Extraterrestrial,” by the Harvard astrophysicist Avi Loeb, makes the case for intelligent life in outer space — and for evidence that it may have visited us not long ago.


How to Pay for College (and Not Lose Your Shirt)

“The Price You Pay for College,” by Ron Lieber, is a comprehensive guide to navigating an often treacherous process.


Book Review: ‘We Need to Hang Out,’ by Billy Baker

In “We Need to Hang Out,” Billy Baker dissects the perils of isolation and the very real struggle to connect.


New & Noteworthy, From the Science of Life to Annie Oakley

A selection of recent titles of interest; plus, a peek at what our colleagues around the newsroom are reading.


Meet a Family Who Spent 9 Months Traveling the Globe, Pre-Plague

In “We Came, We Saw, We Left,” Charles Wheelan shares the highlights — and lowlights — of exploring the world with three teenagers.


Joan Didion Revisits the Past Once More

“Let Me Tell You What I Mean” collects 12 prescient essays from 1968 through 2000.


Book Review: ‘The Copenhagen Trilogy,’ by Tove Ditlevsen

Tove Ditlevsen’s memoirs, collected in “The Copenhagen Trilogy,” are bracing accounts of her childhood, writing career and struggles with addiction.


Under the Most Difficult Circumstances, Kindness Prevails

In “No Heaven for Good Boys,” Keisha Bush delivers a powerful coming-of-age novel inspired by a world she observed while living in Senegal.


The Religious Roots of Our Free Enterprise System

Benjamin M. Friedman’s “Religion and the Rise of Capitalism” reaches back centuries to discover the theological foundations of America’s economic system.


Harold Bloom Is Dead. But His ‘Rage for Reading’ Is Undiminished.

Robert Gottlieb considers the celebrated Yale critic on the occasion of his last, posthumously published book, “The Bright Book of Life,” which revisits the novels that inspired his passion and awe.


Three Books Offer New Ways to Think About Environmental Disaster

A study of war crimes against nature, a guide for surviving climate change and a call for direct action against fossil fuels.

 

‘Mike Nichols’ Captures a Star-Studded Life That Shuttled Between Broadway and Hollywood

Mark Harris’s biography tells the story of the writer and director who formed a beloved comedy duo with Elaine May and directed movies including “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” and “The Graduate.”


25 Great Book Reviews From the Past 125 Years

To celebrate the Book Review’s 125th anniversary, we’re dipping into the archives to revisit our most thrilling, memorable and thought-provoking coverage.


Tae Keller Wins Newbery Medal for ‘When You Trap a Tiger’

“We Are Water Protectors,” illustrated by Michaela Goade and written by Carole Lindstrom, won the Caldecott Medal.


Just Don’t Call Her a Ghostwriter

Michelle Burford has carved out a niche helping famous Black women like Cicely Tyson, Alicia Keys and Gabby Douglas write their memoirs. But she can tell many kinds of stories, including her own.


Harold Bloom Is Dead. But His ‘Rage for Reading’ Is Undiminished.

Robert Gottlieb considers the celebrated Yale critic on the occasion of his last, posthumously published book, “The Bright Book of Life,” which revisits the novels that inspired his passion and awe.


The Ethics of Adoption in America

Gabrielle Glaser talks about “American Baby,” and Kenneth R. Rosen discusses “Troubled: The Failed Promise of America’s Behavioral Treatment Programs.”


‘Let the Lord Sort Them: The Rise and Fall of the Death Penalty,’ by Maurice Chammah: An Excerpt

An excerpt from “Let the Lord Sort Them: The Rise and Fall of the Death Penalty,” by Maurice Chammah


An Unlikely TV Star Who Knows What Britain Wants

Richard Osman’s TV shows and a best-selling novel are defiantly mainstream, and he is comfortable with how uncool that might make him.


Tracking the Vocabulary of Sci-Fi, from Aerocar to Zero-Gravity

The new online Historical Dictionary of Science Fiction probes the speculative corners of the lexicographic universe.


‘No Heaven for Good Boys,’ by Keisha Bush: An Excerpt

An excerpt from “No Heaven for Good Boys,” by Keisha Bush


Book Review: ‘Let the Lord Sort Them,’ by Maurice Chammah

“Let the Lord Sort Them,” by Maurice Chammah, relates the history of capital punishment in America, and why it is on its way out.


Did an Alien Life-Form Do a Drive-By of Our Solar System in 2017?

“Extraterrestrial,” by the Harvard astrophysicist Avi Loeb, makes the case for intelligent life in outer space — and for evidence that it may have visited us not long ago.


How to Pay for College (and Not Lose Your Shirt)

“The Price You Pay for College,” by Ron Lieber, is a comprehensive guide to navigating an often treacherous process.


Book Review: ‘We Need to Hang Out,’ by Billy Baker

In “We Need to Hang Out,” Billy Baker dissects the perils of isolation and the very real struggle to connect.


New & Noteworthy, From the Science of Life to Annie Oakley

A selection of recent titles of interest; plus, a peek at what our colleagues around the newsroom are reading.


Meet a Family Who Spent 9 Months Traveling the Globe, Pre-Plague

In “We Came, We Saw, We Left,” Charles Wheelan shares the highlights — and lowlights — of exploring the world with three teenagers.


Joan Didion Revisits the Past Once More

“Let Me Tell You What I Mean” collects 12 prescient essays from 1968 through 2000.


Book Review: ‘The Copenhagen Trilogy,’ by Tove Ditlevsen

Tove Ditlevsen’s memoirs, collected in “The Copenhagen Trilogy,” are bracing accounts of her childhood, writing career and struggles with addiction.


This Parenting Book Actually Made Me a Better Parent

I got by with my kids on instinct (and Google) until the pandemic hit. A friend’s recommendation made a quiet revolution in my home.


Under the Most Difficult Circumstances, Kindness Prevails

In “No Heaven for Good Boys,” Keisha Bush delivers a powerful coming-of-age novel inspired by a world she observed while living in Senegal.


The Religious Roots of Our Free Enterprise System

Benjamin M. Friedman’s “Religion and the Rise of Capitalism” reaches back centuries to discover the theological foundations of America’s economic system.


Things To Do At Home

This week, celebrate Australia Day, make masala chai and listen to Natalie Portman discuss her new children’s book.


Looking at History Through the Deadly Conflicts Over Territory

Simon Winchester’s “Land” is a sweeping survey of territorial battles throughout history and the injustices they have spawned.


Three Books Offer New Ways to Think About Environmental Disaster

A study of war crimes against nature, a guide for surviving climate change and a call for direct action against fossil fuels.


‘Everybody Loved Blake, Except His Wives. Sometimes, We Hated Him.’

Cate Quinn’s debut mystery, “Black Widows,” investigates three sister-wives who all had good reasons to wish their controlling husband dead.