Friday, August 4, 2017

Review: Every Anxious Wave

Every Anxious Wave Every Anxious Wave by Mo Daviau
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

There’s a moment early in the musical Urinetown where a character comes on stage and explains the premise: yes, this is a story about a dystopian future where water is rationed, but it’s going to deal only with the question of how people have limited opportunities to pee. If you want to know about the other implications – where will our food come from, how will we stay hydrated – don’t bother. There’s a premise here; get it, roll with it, and enjoy it.

This novel starts out with that same flippant joy. Slacker guy discovers time travel. His one friend, a computer wiz, whips up an app to control it. And they establish a rule that the device can be used only for purposes of going back to watch legendary bands play shows you were too young or not hip enough to see. All that in the first 8-10 pages.

So, yeah, I was on board right away.

And the beginning of this is full of real cleverness and joy. It happens to be set in the Chicago of my own young adulthood, and it’s a bit of an ego stroke to get the sense that 21st century hipsters lust after mid ’90s shows at The Empty Bottle or Lounge Ax, that they’d have wanted to see (and here I venture a bit out of the text) the Young Fresh Fellows, Southern Culture on the Skids, or the not-quite-spent Alex Chilton, all in front of crowds less than 150.

There’s an early fun conflict when Carl accidentally sends his friend back to 980 rather than 1980, and that means he has to seek out another astrophysicist to straighten things out. And she brings a lot of drama.

If you’ve read the back of the book, you know all that, and you’ll know if it sounds appealing. To me, absolutely. And I’m glad to say that Daviau delivers. She finds just the right balance between hip and self-effacing. Carl’s history as the “Garfunkle” of a successful late punk band – one distinguished by its lead singer’s appreciation of the beauty of “chubby girls” – unspools in satisfying ways. I can almost hear them playing “Pin Cushion,” their big hit.

As this moves along, though, I get the sense that Daviau, having spent that great burst of inspiration, started to alter the DNA of the original story.

[SPOILER] Over time, that first principle of time travel gets modified. Part of the joy of Urinetown (written, in part, by a friend of friends from my Chicago near-hipster days, so half a point of street cred to me) is that it never wavered from its goofy premise. Every Single Wave does, though. Whether it’s about trying to prevent John Lennon’s murder or making increasingly complex changes in the life of a friend, the novel becomes more and more about the typical time-travel novel conventions: you can’t control the unintended effects of alterations you make. Our hero makes one change, has to discover its implications, and then has to make further changes.

The continued good news is that Daviau mostly sustains the simple pleasure of her narrative voice, but I can’t help feel a bit cheated. I was supposed to be buying a ticket to see the Replacements playing Ann Arbor in 1985. Instead I’ve got a day pass for Pitchfork. The music’s still good, and there’s enough of it to keep you spinning around, but it’s also something I can get other places. The peculiar magic of the start of this just doesn’t hold up, but there’s enough cleverness and fun to make it worthwhile seeing how all the frayed ends get sewn back together.


View all my reviews

Monday, July 31, 2017

Review: House of Sand and Fog

House of Sand and Fog House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I remember this novel from a review I read when it first came out more than 15 years ago. The premise sounded amazing, and I still think so. This begins as a masterpiece.

One of my favorite philosophers is Gaston Bachelard whose focus is on the experience of home. He explores the degree to which we understand ourselves based on the degree to which we feel at home in a certain place or among a certain group.

In that light, this novel begins as a powerful exploration of two people who find “home,” who find the completion of themselves, in the same place. Kathy is a mostly down-on-her-luck recovering addict who needs the house to feel a connection to a past she’s trying to recover. She wants to be the person she once imagined, and the house is part of making that happen in the wake of being abandoned by her fellow addict boyfriend.

Massoud is a former Iranian colonel, an officer who fled the country as the Shah fell and brought a stash of money with him. He’s spent the last 15 years watching his resources dwindle and experiencing his own slide into irrelevance. When he buys the house in a tax sale, it promises a new beginning. It gives him his first real stake in America, and it promises to make him whole again.

That conflict is powerful, and Dubus writes lyrically about each character. The story is compelling as each works toward her or his need around the house. He has to make immediate changes so it can be more valuable in resale. She has to circle around it when, homeless, she is no longer certain where she belongs.

Unfortunately, the novel takes a turn into something else midway through. [SPOILER] I have no problem with Kathy’s falling in love with a police officer who’s dealing with his own deep discontent, but it does bother me that he becomes more and more the driver of the plot. His sudden love for Kathy has him enlist, violently, on her side.

The final quarter of the book, then, is less an exploration of the powerful grip a home can have on you than it is a study in the way desire and frustration can boil over. It’s still a compelling story, one that has the grip-your-attention power of a suspense story when you know, with dread, what’s coming but can’t look away.

And, throughout, this is written in a beautiful fashion, one that recalls in parts for me the very different tone of Jefferey Eugenides.

So, this is a powerful work, one I’m glad to have

View all my reviews

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Review: Windy City Watchdog

Windy City Watchdog Windy City Watchdog by Bob Wiedrich
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This Chicago reporter’s memoir follows in a surprisingly substantial niche genre. From Ben Hecht on, it’s been a kind of late-career obligation for Chicago’s top muckrakers to reflect on their lives, careers, and favorite anecdotes. I got curious and combed my shelves for others in the tradition: I already have John McPhaul’s Deadlines & Monkeyshines (1962), Bill Doherty’s Crime Reporter (1964), and John Drummond’s Thirty Years in the Trenches (1998), and I’m not even including the late career retrospectives that Ed Baumann and John O’Brien put together. With that, I’m sure missing plenty more. Narrow as it is, it’s been fertile ground.

So, in that light, I find it kind of sad that Wiedrich’s memoir is self-published and that’s it’s gotten very little attention. Some of that, I’m afraid, is his fault. This is written in short, episodic bits. It feels like an assemblage of columns he’s written in retirement more than a coherent narrative. But some of that is a world that, as we see so dramatically with the crisis over “fake news,” has forgotten the work it takes to do real reporting. A generation ago, there’d have been a real market for something like this.

I’ve been doing a lot of digging in mid 1970s Chicago crime reporting (for a project that’s kept me from doing much other reading), and there’s no question Wiedrich was a real star. Alongside his Tribune partner Sandy Smith and the Sun-Times’ great Art Petacque, Wiedrich was the premier reporter of gangster events of his era. His old columns make sense of stories that others were putting together only in piecemeal. There’s a saying that journalism is the first draft of history. In those days, Wiedrich did his share of those first drafts, but he may have been alone in also doing a kind of second-draft, of writing pieces like his awesome “The Old, Gray Mob, It Ain’t What it Used to Be” in 1974 as a careful look at the way the founding generation of Chicago’s Syndicate was dying out. As someone going back to make sense of the period, I find his work is essential.

This memoir is not, for the most part, as spot-on as those old columns. I enjoy the way he captures a kind of gentle corruption permeating the Chicago he remembers. He has a great story about trying to tip a cop off about a bookie joint as a kid, only to be told to mind his own business. Or he talks as well about how, as a nearly broke young reporter, he’d join cops for free meals from restaurants that knew they were being gently squeezed.

I picked this up for the nuggets I might get on the gangsters he covered and knew, and I’m afraid it’s often thin in that department. There’s a sameness to most of the Syndicate members he discusses, though he clearly hated Richard Cain, a sheriff’s deputy who notoriously worked for the Syndicate at the same time. (And wound up shot in the end.) Cain once tried to entice him into a sexual encounter with a prostitute in an effort to collect dirt on him for future blackmail. Otherwise, we get a lot of names but none of the only-now-it-can-be-told details that I was hoping for.

There are some nice moments of reflection on the vanished Chicago and only a little of the “things were so much better then” nostalgia that threatens any project like this. I come away from this thinking it would be good to spend an afternoon with Wiedrich, who still seems sharp, but that the book itself doesn’t quite give a new look at the history he first helped uncover.


View all my reviews

Monday, July 10, 2017

Review: Past Imperfect

Past Imperfect Past Imperfect by Julian Fellowes
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The British empire may have died, but its death spasms continue. Fellowes has gotten famous, so I understand, from Downton Abbey – which I have not managed to see – and I thought reading this might give me some flavor of what people seem to admire so much about it.

On the plus side, this is often ‘sumptuous,’ a word I associate with Downton Abbey. We get long descriptions about the lives of assorted aristocrats, their homes, and their hopes. At its best, Fellowes gives nice, insightful portraits of individuals. At its worst, it runs on, tending toward what I might call a pornography of upper class life – descriptions that acknowledge the banality of the whole crowd but that go on to detail their whims and hungers with lingering attention.

All of that is generally what I signed up for: a 21st century English novel of manners. What really disappoints me, though, is the clumsiness of the narrative here. Fellowes can certainly write at the sentence level, but the whole of this feels almost amateurish in its organization.

At an architectural level, this is a Gatsby rewrite. Our narrator is a man of “the crowd,” but he’s on the outskirts of it. Through him, an arriviste pushes his way in, falls in love with a young woman, and then finds he cannot after all reinvent his background sufficiently to win her.

As we get the story, though, it’s presented through the organization of a mystery novel – a staged and dated variation of the old locked-room mystery. The dying Damian tells us that he understands he sired a child on one of his many mistresses of a couple decades before, and he wants to know which woman is the mother. Of course he has a list of all the women he slept with, and, of course, our protagonist/narrator proceeds from one ‘suspect’ to the next.

The organization that follows is so straightforward as to be embarrassing. We get a section dedicated to each – with her name on it in all but the final case – then we get a chapter on life ‘back then’ and a chapter on the present-day ‘interrogation.’ The skill of the sentences obscures the real hack-work underneath. Why, for instance, would one woman confide that she ‘bought’ her child to fake a pregnancy that would force a man to marry her? It’s a story she’s never told anyone, and there’s no conceivable motivation for sharing it when she does; it’s just convenient to the arc of the story as we get it. When he needs an answer to move onto the next chapter, he gets it. And why does each chapter reach a ‘climax’ in which it seems the child in question might be the one…only to have the possibility eliminated by one or another last-second reveal? Again, narrative convenience.

Throughout the novel, we’re teased with the idea of “Portugal,” a final and too-embarrassing-to-speak-of scene that, predictably, we get described near the very end. [SPOILER] So, Damian loses his temper and tells all the upper-class twits off. And he’s an asshole to our narrator. By that point in the novel, our narrator’s more or less forgiven him. It’s not that big a deal, yet it carries the weight of concluding that part of our narrator’s life…even though he admits he remained in contact with his old set over the following decades.

And then there’s a ‘twist’ at the end that’s really frustrating because it violates the spirit of the ‘mystery’ as we’ve gotten it. Someone on the list shouldn’t have been there and vice-versa and, guess what? The most obvious person of all is the one. Fellowes gets to express his contempt for the excesses of the aristocracy – he shows us his appreciation for the common sort after all -- but the wealthy get wealthier, and a sliver of the fine old caste system persists.

I’m probably being harder on this than I should be. I did finish it, after all, and one of its clear sins is its length. Still, I’d heard such good things about Downton Abbey that I have time believing Fellowes had much to do with shaping the way those stories came together.


View all my reviews

Friday, July 7, 2017

Review: Al Franken, Giant of the Senate

Al Franken, Giant of the Senate Al Franken, Giant of the Senate by Al Franken
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I confess I didn’t really plan to read this. I’ve loved Franken since I first saw him on Saturday Night Live, proclaiming the ‘80s not the me-decade, but the “Me, Al Franken, decade.” Still, I figured I’d heard what I needed to hear, and I’d just go on rooting for him to do his good work in the Senate while I spent time reading more serious fiction.

Then I kept stumbling across excerpts of this book, and each one made me laugh. There was the famous one about Ted Cruz, “I like Ted Cruz more than most of my colleagues like Ted Cruz. And I hate Ted Cruz.” There was his quoting Lindsay Graham as evidence that Republicans can be funny too. Noting that Graham was running 15th in a field of 17 candidates for the GOP Presidential nomination, Franken told him, “Lindsay, if I were voting in the Republican primaries, I’d vote for you.” Without hesitation, Graham replied, “That’s my problem.” And there was his persistent talk about how he’d had to “de-humorize” his statements in order to become a legitimate Senate candidate.

Finally, I got hit with a chance to buy the book as part of a fundraiser and, well, I just couldn’t stop reading it.

In many ways, this is three books in one, and all are interesting.

The first 50-60 pages are really a memoir of Franken as a Jewish kid in Minnesota growing into a successful comic. In the spirit of Steve Martin’s recent memoir, it brought the pleasure of revisiting many of the great skits of my adolescence from the performer’s side of things. I hadn’t realized how central Franken was to the early SNL vibe. He wasn’t Martin, who came to be the manic face of the guest host, nor was he Lorne Michaels, the impresario. He wasn’t even John Belushi or Bill Murray, the most inspired of the performers. But, as a writer, he was a constant voice behind all of those people, and – with the exception of Michaels – he was there longer.

Again as with Martin’s memoir, one of the pleasures is to discover the existing comics that Franken wanted to emulate. I love his take on Bob and Ray – perhaps my father’s favorite comedy team – and, once he says it, I can see how their dry approach informed Franken, his partner Tom Davis, and much of what I remember from those early SNL days.

The middle part of this book recounts the long process of Franken’s run for the Senate. It tells how a politically inclined person slowly decided to become a candidate. Along the way, he had to overcome a strange primary – in which his old humor was read out of context – and the closest Senate race in U.S. history – in which his humor was manipulated into untruths.

This part gets a bit slow in places – there’s less tension than the narrative seems to imply since we know the outcome beforehand – but it is intriguing for a political junkie.

The best part of that section, though, is the way Franken discusses the role of humor in his campaign. He talks a lot about how he had to try to present himself as someone other than who he’d been his entire adult life. His frustration is fun to see, but even more fun is to have him release some of the best jokes he had to self-censor during the campaign. It isn’t news that Franken is funny and insightful; it is news that he was being funny and insightful at this most serious part of his life.

The final section is even more fun as the now-established Senator Franken gives us a behind-the-scenes look at the Senate. The line about Cruz turns out to be an anomaly. Franken talks about how he feels compelled to push against his Republican colleagues, but he offers a refreshing look at what it means to know the people you’re fighting with. It’s striking to hear him report that Jeff Sessions – the same guy whom Coretta Scott King called too racist to be a federal judge and who is a neanderthalic Attorney General – asked his wife to knit a blanket for Franken’s first grandchild. Franken assailed the guy during his confirmation hearings, and it’s more compelling to know he did so with a personal affection for the man whom he politically opposed.

Anyway, this turns out to be a thoughtful and fun book. I kept daring myself to put it down, but then it would jump back into my hand and make me read it. All I can say is, if you’re tempted, give it a shot. Franken’s voice comes through on the page, and we certainly need as much of it as we can get these days.


View all my reviews

Friday, June 30, 2017

Review: The Bird and the Sword

The Bird and the Sword The Bird and the Sword by Amy Harmon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A lot of the best fantasy is ultimately about language. Tolkien began, after all, with his linguistic experiments around the language of the elves and orcs, and the stories grew from there. Ursula K. LeGuin’s Earthsea trilogy has an entire system of magic around the notion that the world came into being when the first human spoke the true language, and now all magic is the residue of that same speech. And J.K. Rowling makes a big deal about how important it is for her young wizards to pronounce words just-so, to appreciate the power of the individual word.

A lot of powerful feminist literature explores what it means for a woman to lose her voice. Whether it’s something like The Little Mermaid story or The Handmaid’s Tale, we’re called on to interrogate the degree to which women are subjected to control by the removal of their voices, by silencing them.

Amy Harmon marries those two traditions in this gently magical story of a young woman who discovers power, love and a sense of her own desires through the process of recovering the voice taken from her as a child. This is fantasy in the broad sense of the term: it’s a story that invents a new world in order to comment on the one we know. It may not be “high fantasy” in the sense of the endless parade of Tolkien/Martin wanabes, but that’s a good thing. Instead, it’s a story that spins a new mythology from the long tradition of fairy tale.

This is also a story that goes in unexpected places. Lark is a lord’s daughter whose life is overturned when the king discovers that her mother is “gifted,” that she has the power to give “words” that reshape reality. The king has the mother summarily executed, but not before she can level curses upon the king and his son, and she can command her daughter to silence so that she will not suffer the same fate for exercising her power.

To the degree that this book explores the feminist trope, it’s telling that it’s another woman who silences Lark. And she does so not out of jealousy (as another woman attempts to do late in the book) but for her own protection. It’s hard to judge the mother: has she acted wisely to defend her daughter, or is she frightened of this particular female power? I like that the answer isn’t clear, that this is a real novel, not a political tract. It asks a powerful question – how do we accommodate a woman’s power – and then it allows multiple answers to emerge.

Similarly, Lark gets taken hostage years later by the new king, only to discover that her mother’s curse has left him gifted as well. He has the capacity to change into an eagle, but he can’t control the process. As her mother promised, he is losing himself “to the sky.” Again we see the ambivalence of the situation. This power is, in its way, welcome, and the king acknowledges later that he has always dreamed of flying. Yet it also limits him. It’s both a curse and a gift, an experience of the world that makes him more and less likely to tolerate the “gifted” community his father sought to exterminate.

And, at the same time as she’s taken violently, she slowly discovers she loves Tiras. And their romance is rich and rewarding, with a dash of Pride and Prejudice thrown into the battle narrative. You buy that they’re in love for the right reasons, and Lark’s narrating of her growing desire for him is legitimately powerful

We see the dynamic with Lark’s father as well. Early on he’s praised for being a mild, unambitious man, the perfect mate for Lark’s mother who might shine too brightly if she were nearer the throne. Later, he becomes a key player in the chess game to determine who will be named successor to the dying king. He’s Lark’s protector, but he also likes her as silent; he doesn’t want to see her power unleashed.

And to top all of that off, Harmon writes with real skill. Her prose is lyrical and engaging, but it’s never overwrought. It feels like a fairy tale, but it never resolves itself into something as straightforward as that tone would suggest.

I do think there are spots where the action drags (but that might be my fault for getting distracted for days at a time as I read this and therefore coming to it with more gaps of time than I usually do). For a story that comes to depend as much as this does on intrigue, there might be more of a run-up to the political crises in the last few chapters.

All in all, though, Harmon writes so beautifully, and she does so in the service of such legitimate literary questions, that I enjoyed this very much.


View all my reviews

Review: Al Capone's Beer Wars: A Complete History of Organized Crime in Chicago During Prohibition

Al Capone's Beer Wars: A Complete History of Organized Crime in Chicago During Prohibition Al Capone's Beer Wars: A Complete History of Organized Crime in Chicago During Prohibition by John J. Binder
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

For starters, John Binder is the name in Chicago-area Prohibition-crime history. He’s been a friend, mentor, collaborator, and resource to me, but that hardly makes me unique. John has been a generous and insightful resource to everyone who’s found his way to him in the last quarter century. In fact, a good squeeze-the-produce way to find out if a work in this field is any good is to check its acknowledgements page: if John isn’t mentioned, it means the author never really got started digging. Lots of people are doing good and provocative work on the Capone era, (think of Rich Lindberg, Matt Luzi, Mario Gomes, Rose Keefe, and Mars Eghigian) and but none of them are doing it without somehow coming into contact with John.

And this book is the summation of John’s three or four decades of research. If you’ve never really gotten the skinny on Capone, this book has it (though it may not be the best place to get a first exposure to that long and bloody story). If you already know where some of the bodies are buried, then no other source can take you so quickly to the current, advanced thinking about what happened, what people say happened, and how far we can go with revising this well-known but distorted historical moment.

In a broad sense, this book has been done before, but not for almost 60 years and not without many significant recent findings. In the immediate wake of Prohibition, there was an entire industry dedicated to creating the general myth of Capone’s Chicago. On the one hand, you had the rise of the “Syndicate” under Colosimo, Torrio, and Capone. On the other, you had the nefarious Dean O’Banion (I can call him “nefarious” because he shot my grandfather), Hymie Weiss, and Bugs Moran lining up the Northside Gang. Then, after the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, it was just Capone until he got knocked off his perch by Eliot Ness. Or was it for tax evasion?

From almost the moment the bullet casings fell to the floor, you had writers mythologizing the Chicago gangster. (Armitrage Trail and Ben Hecht were writing versions of Scarface while Capone was still at large, and every day’s newspaper – of which there were seven competing – brought some fresh anecdote.) There was nothing romantic about the character – that wouldn’t come until the middle 1960s with Mario Puzo – but he was certainly magnetic. Equal parts charismatic, menacing, cunning, and doomed, he quickly fit into an established storyline: a rapid rise and a sudden fall.

I have a long shelf full of books that people were writing in the late 1920s and throughout the 1930s, all of which tell the same essential version of the Chicago gangster story, one that featured Capone but that didn’t necessarily revolve around him. Then, starting in the 1940s, writers tended to focus on one or another aspect rather than the whole. Capone’s legend grew larger and larger, to the point that it overshadowed almost everyone else’s. (There are at least four serious biographies of Capone – Pasley, Kobler, Schoenberg, and Bergreen – and that doesn’t count the dozens of books that deal with a slice of Capone’s life or the countless quickie biographies that simply recycle what’s already out there.) In other words, the Prohibition story in Chicago got reduced to the story of Capone.

What Binder does here, above all, is restore the larger context of that story. Yes, there’s still a lot about Capone and a lot about booze, but this book recovers the histories of the dozen or more substantial gangs that started out as legitimate rivals. And it also restores some necessary balance to the crimes in play. It wasn’t all booze. It began with prostitution and gambling, grew to include the crucial business of racketeering, and eventually necessitated political corruption. So it’s more characters doing more things.

That larger net makes it harder to tell a coherent story. There are stretches here where we get long lists of names that may not mean especially much to people who haven’t studied this material. Still, no one has attempted to publish such lists since at least 1961 (when Kenneth Alsop attempted the last such overarching history) and no one has ever done so with so much ancillary research at hand.

Once Binder lays out the structure here – several gangs involved in several different kinds of criminal enterprises – he gets to the familiar story of “Al Capone vs. Bugs Moran.” Except, here, Binder refuses to let it settle into the familiar rise and fall of Scarface. Among other things, he asks an obvious question that few have posed: if we know that the Northside Gang had hundreds of gunmen and dozens of significant lieutenants, then how did the killing of only half a dozen of them – leaving Moran alive – bring an essential end to the gang war?

Binder’s answer is that it didn’t. The Massacre marked the beginning of the end, but only the beginning, and he gives a substantial chapter to the extensive sequel. The Moran forces may have been weakened, but they were soon, but temporarily, even stronger after their alliance with the noxious pimp Jack Zuta, the suddenly wealthy Aiello gang, and the bold, further Northside Touhys. In other words, as Binder convincingly reminds us, the gang war continued a good five or six years longer. The Capone gang – even after Capone was sent to prison – pursued a patient and disciplined strategy, one that took foresight but also good fortune. Time after time they fragmented the opposition, absorbing some of the ones they’d defeated, and then continuing to pressure the ones who remained. It took really until World War II, but they eventually consolidated everything and became (though this is outside Binder’s study) a kind of government for the criminal world, compelling anyone who broke the law to play by their rules, paying the proper “street taxes” and abiding by clear directives about where or when they could ply their illegal trades.

Along the way, Binder offers a number of thoughtful digressions to take down either longstanding myths or attempts at historical revisionism. Among them

• He argues that the South Side O’Donnells, led by the media savvy Spike, were more influential than contemporary observers – particularly the ones who attempted to record which gangs held which territory – seemed to acknowledge. He uses careful studies of police logs and Chicago Crime Commission data to suggest we’ve allowed Spike to settle into a teller-of-tales sort when, in reality, he was consequential.

• He takes on Tribune columnist John Kass’s assertion that Capone was essentially a figurehead for later mob boss Paul Ricca. Binder acknowledges the consensus that Ricca went on to become probably the paramount figure in the mob, but he sees no evidence to suggest that influence began as far back as Kass asserts.

• He challenges the formidable Laurence Bergreen who put forward the notion that Capone was really fronting for Chicago Heights power Frankie LaPorte, but he does so thoughtfully, acknowledging the more focused (and more credible in this context) work of Matt Luzi who has shown the Chicago Heights gangsters were more consequential than contemporaries realized.

• And he more or less demolished Jonathan Eig’s recent assertion that William “Three-Fingered” White was the architect of the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.

Those digressions sometimes do break up the core narrative of the book, but since this is a book about expanding about that narrative we can forgive it.

In the end, there’s so much here that it’s easy to declare it an essential work in the field. Binder gives us the most complete updating of the overall Chicago Prohibition era study that we’ve had in decades, and he does it with the same modesty I’ve seen in him for years, crediting others for the pieces they’ve contributed to this very large puzzle he’s done so much to solve. A lot of us have been waiting for this one for a long time, and it’s great to have it at last.


View all my reviews