Recent Reviews

The best comedy books of 2014

Some highlights from a year of books by funny people, including Poehler, Amram and Mandvi.

Birth of a Russian dictator

Stephen Kotkin charts the improbable rise of Joseph Stalin, a talented politician, organizer and infighter.

Flexing America’s economic might

Adam Tooze describes U.S. clout in the remaking of the world political and economic order after World War I

Emergence of offensive images of Jews

Sara Lipton explores how hostile representations of Jews arose in the Middle Ages.

Worshipping God their own way

Gerard Russell reports on the ancient non-Muslim religions being squeezed out of the Middle East

Wretched, admirable, unforgettable Coco

Rhonda Garelick creates a detailed, wry and nuanced portrait of the complicated fashion icon.

Controversy over an offending film

Dick Lehr explores the emergence of D.W. Griffith, his epic film and the racial debate the work inspired.

Modern Man: The Life of Le Corbusier

A detailed look at a controlling visionary architect with a complicated and contradictory personality.

‘Inventions That Didn’t Change the World,’ by Julie Halls

A remarkable collection of design drawings for inventions long forgotten.

Restoring Jesus’s Jewish background

James Carroll urges the Christian faithful to reexamine their beliefs about Jesus’s identity.

‘Quartet for the End of Time,’ by Johanna Skibsrud

An ambitious novel that reaches from the trenches of World War I to the air raids of World War II.

Stocking stuffers: Three new kids books relating to weather and the natural world

Looking for some weather-related reads for your little one(s)? Here are three worthy recent publications...

Rediscovering books of Christmas past

Penguin Christmas Classics put stories by Charles Dickens, Louisa May Alcott and others back under the tree.

Norman Bridwell, creator of Clifford the Big Red Dog, dies

Clifford, the clumsy, lovable canine, helped teach millions of youngsters how to face the world.

Review: ‘The Forgers,’ by Bradford Morrow

A literary thriller set in the rarefied world of book collectors pays homage to an Agatha Christie whodunit.

Clifford and other dogs we’ve loved in literature

From ‘The Poky Little Puppy’ to ‘Cujo,’ dogs have been some of the most memorable characters in literature.

‘The Happiest People in the World,’ by Brock Clarke

When a Danish cartoonist offends Islamic terrorists, the CIA gives him a new identity in a small U.S. town.

‘The Strange Library,’ by Haruki Murakami

A fantastical story for young readers by the author of “Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage.”

December’s best books for young readers

Dianne White, Mark Kurlansky and Ann M. Martin offer rhyming couplets, a biography and a novel, respectively.

Claus confronts author of ‘Does Santa Exist?’

Santa Claus confronts TV writer/producer Eric Kaplan with some tough questions.

Review: ‘American Cornball’

“A Laffopedic Guide to the Formerly Funny,” by Christopher Miller.

Arlington bookstore wins grant from James Patterson

One More Page Books plans to start a bookstore on wheels.

Review: Pierre Lemaitre’s ‘Irene’

‘Irene’ is a violent thriller that’s also a clever play on the genre of crime fiction.

New Patrick Modiano novel coming to U.S. next fall

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt acquires the U.S. rights to the Nobel winner’s latest book — and a small Boston publisher is pushed to the sidelines.

Why America lost China to Mao

Richard Bernstein explores whether the U.S and China could have avoided decades of antagonism.

Men who cheat, grope and hate Hillary

Laura Kipnis explores the male human animal across the spectrum from scumbag to victim.

Digging for traces of the human past

Marilyn Johnson portrays the archaeologists as rugged heirs of Indiana Jones and quiet scholars.

Playing second fiddle

In ‘The American Vice Presidency,’ Jules Witcover surveys an office that has evolved markedly in recent years.

Riding ‘Stinky’ the robot to glory

Joshua Davis recounts how four immigrant teenagers overcame huge odds to ace a robotics competition.

‘I Must Say,’ by Martin Short

The former Saturday Night Live star dishes about his sometimes heartbreaking rise to semi-fame.

‘Charlie Chaplin: A Brief Life,’ by Peter Ackroyd

A compact new biography of the tramp who was once the most famous and beloved person on the planet.

‘Gutenberg’s Apprentice,’ by Alix Christie

The printing press shaped a medieval revolution of the word — with great relevance to our own moment.

Romance coming to the Library of Congress

“What Is Love? Romance Fiction in the Digital Age,” a special conference open to the public on Feb. 10-11, 2015.

Publisher plans to put Senate’s CIA report on bookshelves

Melville House in Brooklyn is working on a paperback version, expected in bookstores by the end of the year.

Michael Dirda’s picks for holiday gift books

Selections for art lovers, mystery readers, geeks, Patti Smith fans — and more.

‘Senate Torture Report’ in bookstores before New Year’s

Indie publisher Melville House acts quickly to print and distribute the Senate Intelligence Committee’s “Study of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Detention and Interrogation Program”

Nathaniel Branden, disciple of Ayn Rand, dies at 84

The onetime lover of the politically influential novelist, later became a self-help psychologist.

‘Bomb’: The evolution of an iconic, irreverent institution

‘Bomb: The Author Interviews’ misses the chance to capture the writerly voices of an era.

‘The Boston Girl,’ by Anita Diamant

An immigrant story is the newest offering from the author of ‘The Red Tent.’

The anonymous confessions of ‘The World of PostSecret’

Pithy postcards from nameless senders offer a vivid and intimate mosaic of 21st-century interior life.

Washington Post Bestsellers Dec. 21, 2014

The books Washington has been reading.

The Style Blog

Ron Charles

Rediscovering books of Christmas past

Penguin Christmas Classics put stories by Charles Dickens, Louisa May Alcott and others back under the tree.

The Style Blog

Ron Charles

Clifford and other dogs we’ve loved in literature

From ‘The Poky Little Puppy’ to ‘Cujo,’ dogs have been some of the most memorable characters in literature.

Ron Charles

Ron Charles

‘The Happiest People in the World,’ by Brock Clarke

When a Danish cartoonist offends Islamic terrorists, the CIA gives him a new identity in a small U.S. town.

Michael Dirda

Michael Dirda

Review: ‘The Forgers,’ by Bradford Morrow

A literary thriller set in the rarefied world of book collectors pays homage to an Agatha Christie whodunit.

Michael Dirda

Michael Dirda

Michael Dirda’s picks for holiday gift books

Selections for art lovers, mystery readers, geeks, Patti Smith fans — and more.

Michael Dirda

Michael Dirda

Michael Dirda reviews ‘Suspended Sentences’

Three novellas by the Nobel Prize winner are quiet, mysterious tales reminiscent of Paul Auster’s works.

Jonathan Yardley

Jonathan Yardley

Yardley’s favorite books

The retiring critic lists his picks from the past 33 years.

Jonathan Yardley

Jonathan Yardley

Three decades, 3,000 reviews

Book critic Jonathan Yardley says goodbye to readers.

Jonathan Yardley

Jonathan Yardley

A book about decapitation

Frances Larson surveys the practice of beheading throughout history

Literary Calendar

Going Out Guide: Upcoming events

Going Out Guide: Upcoming events

Get the latest on readings, signings and author appearances in the D.C. area.