Starred Review

An Impeccable Spy: Richard Sorge, Stalin's Master Agent

by Owen Matthews

An Impeccable Spy: Richard Sorge, Stalin's Master Agent is both admiring and sharply critical of its subject. Owen Matthews, author of Stalin's Children, begins the introduction by writing that Sorge "was a bad man who became a great spy--indeed one of the greatest spies who ever lived." As a famous spy, Sorge presents distinct challenges for the author, not only to say something new but also to penetrate the web of deceptions and self-deceptions that spies inhabit. Matthews's vast research and some

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Once More to the Rodeo

by Calvin Hennick

Calvin Hennick's big-hearted but toughminded debut charts a course across 1,300 miles of American fault lines. His memoir recounts in vivid detail and urgent, conversational prose a 2016 road trip with his five-year-old son, from Worcester, Mass., to see family and a rodeo in small-town Iowa, where the author spent much of his unhappy childhood.

Hennick is a white man married to black woman; their son, Nile, is, in the boy's own words, "tannish" and, at the trip's start, still blissfully unaware of the ugly

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Close Calls: How Eleven U.S. Presidents Escaped from the Brink of Death

by Michael P. Spradlin

Due to harrowing situations in office, in war zones and even in a nuclear reactor, some U.S. presidents have narrowly escaped death. Michael P. Spradlin, author of the Spy Goddess and Medal of Honor series, recounts 11 of these brushes with untimely demise in Close Calls, a fascinating collection of historical narratives.

Through nonfiction that reads like thrilling adventure tales, Spradlin engages young readers in the lives of the nation's commanders-in-chief. With death threats and assassination plots brewing,

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Shelf Discovery

Track Changes

by Sayed Kashua, trans. by Mitch Ginsburg

Sayed Kashua's fourth novel, Track Changes, weaves together an Arab Palestinian family-in-crisis narrative with an ingenious exploration challenging the expectations of reliable storytelling.

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Jinxed

by Amy McCulloch

Twelve-year-old Lacey Chu dreams of working for the high-tech Moncha Corp., but complications abound as she begins attending its training school, Profectus Academy.

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Cleanness

by Garth Greenwell

In nine mature stories, Garth Greenwell examines the complex emotional life of an American expatriate in Bulgaria.

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Meg and Jo

by Virginia Kantra

A lively, hip, 21st-century reinvention of Louisa May Alcott's beloved classic about the tight-knit March family.

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Loveboat, Taipei

by Abigail Hing Wen

After a life of doing everything right, 18-year-old Ever decides she's going to break all the "Wong Family Rules" during the summer language-immersion program she's sent to in Loveboat, Taipei.

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Crossroad

by W.H. Cameron

A young woman struggles to come to terms with her complex past while caught up in a mysterious fatal accident and its aftermath.

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G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers: In a Jar by Deborah Marcero

Media Heat

Thursday, January 16, 2020

KCRW's Bookworm: Jonathan Blum, author of The Usual Uncertainties: Stories (Rescue Press, $17.99, 9780999418659).

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Fresh Air: Joe Palazzolo and Michael Rothfeld, authors of The Fixers: The Bottom-Feeders, Crooked Lawyers, Gossipmongers, and Porn Stars Who Created the 45th President (Random House, $28, 9780593132395).

Today Show: Colin O'Brady, author of The Impossible First: From Fire to Ice--Crossing Antarctica Alone (Scribner, $28, 9781982133115).

Daily Show: Rick Wilson, author of Running Against the Devil: A Plot to Save America from Trump--and Democrats from Themselves (Crown Forum, $28, 9780593137581).

Monday, January 13, 2020

Fresh Air: David Zucchino, author of Wilmington's Lie: The Murderous Coup of 1898 and the Rise of White Supremacy (Atlantic Monthly Press, $28, 9780802128386).

Thursday, January 9, 2020

KCRW's Bookworm: Ben Lerner, author of The Topeka School (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $27, 9780374277789).

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Fresh Air: Andrea Bernstein, author of American Oligarchs: The Kushners, the Trumps, and the Marriage of Money and Power (Norton, $30, 9781324001874).
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