General book blog.

The Sword and the Shield: The Mitrokhin Archive and the Secret History of the KGB by Christopher Andrew and Vasili Mitrokhin. New York. 1999. Basic Books. 700 pages. hardcover. 0465003109. Jacket design by Michael Accordino. 




   The Sword and the Shield is based on one of the most extraordinary intelligence coups of recent times: a secret archive of top-level KGB documents smuggled out of the Soviet Union which the FBI has described, after close examination, as the most complete and extensive intelligence ever received from any source. Its presence in the West represents a catastrophic hemorrhage of the KGB’s secrets and reveals for the first time the full extent of its worldwide network. Vasili Mitrokhin, a secret dissident who worked in the KGB archive, smuggled out copies of its most highly classified files every day for twelve years. In 1992, a U.S. ally succeeded in exfiltrating the KGB officer and his entire archive out of Moscow. The archive covers the entire period from the Bolshevik Revolution to the 1980s and includes revelations concerning almost every country in the world. But the KGB's main target, of course, was the United States. Though there is top-secret material on almost every country in the world, the United States is at the top of the list. As well as containing many fascinating revelations, this is a major contribution to the secret history of the twentieth century. Among the topics and revelations explored are: The KGB’s covert operations in the United States and throughout the West, some of which remain dangerous today. KGB files on Oswald and the JFK assassination that Boris Yeltsin almost certainly has no intention of showing President Clinton. The KGB’s attempts to discredit civil rights leader in the 1960s, including its infiltration of the inner circle of a key leader. The KGB’s use of radio intercept posts in New York and Washington, D.C., in the 1970s to intercept high-level U.S. government communications. The KGB’s attempts to steal technological secrets from major U.S. aerospace andAndrew Christopher technology corporations. KGB covert operations against former President Ronald Reagan, which began five years before he became president. KGB spies who successfully posed as U.S. citizens under a series of ingenious disguises, including several who attained access to the upper echelons of New York society. 


Christopher Andrew is Professor of Modern and Contemporary History and Chair of the Faculty of History at Cambridge University.



Bad Blood: A Crime Novel by Arne Dahl. New York. 2013. Pantheon. hardcover. 345 pages. August 2013. Jacket photograph by Santiago Carrasquilla. Jacket design by Pablo Delcan. Translated from the Swedeish by Rachel Willson-Broyles. 9780375425363.


9780375425363FROM THE PUBLISHER -


  In Arne Dahl’s riveting follow-up to Misterioso, the Intercrime team is assigned the task of tracking down an American serial killer on the loose in Sweden—quietly, and as quickly as possible. When a Swedish literary critic is found tortured to death in a janitor’s closet at Newark International Airport, the police realize that the murderer made off with the victim’s ticket and boarded a flight to Stockholm. Swedish authorities are placed on high alert, but the killer manages to slip through the customs dragnet and vanishes into the night. With no clear motive in sight, Detectives Paul Hjelm and Kerstin Holm of Intercrime’s A-Unit take over the investigation. They learn that the method of torture used was not only a highly specialized means of extracting information secretly developed during the Vietnam War—allowing the victim to whisper, but not to scream—but also that it was the modus operandi of an allegedly deceased homicidal maniac known only as the Kentucky Killer. As additional victims are discovered on the outskirts of Stockholm and the terror grows, the team finds itself coming up empty-handed. Hjelm and Holm fly to New York, hoping to discover both the killer’s identity and the source of his interest in Sweden. What they quickly learn, searching through the past, is that badDahl Arne blood always comes back around.



Arne Dahl is an award-winning crime novelist and literary critic. He lives in Sweden.






Tolstoi, Count Leo. The Awakening (The Resurrection). New York. 1900. Street & Smith. Translated from the Russian by William E. Smith. 317 pages. hardcover.


awakening street and smith no dwFROM THE PUBLISHER -


Tolstoy's last novel and major work of fiction. Because of its content, it was heavily censored and not published in its complete and accurate form until 1935. The Russian edition was published in 1899. The Awakening (RESURRECTION) - Tolstoy's final novel - is a joint embodiment of his vast, objective awareness of human suffering and his lifelong burden of unrealized ideals. It traces the conflict of pride and affection between Kätusha, a prostitute charged with murder, and her first lover, Nekhludov, who now must judge her. Through his attempts to alter the course of her fate, Nekhludov discovers a similarity between the self-centered, legal values of Katusha's accusers and the nature of his own altruism. He discovers the hypocrisy of his own atonement - and begins the journey to resurrection. 'The Homeric, the timeless epic vein was strong in Tolstoy, as perhaps in no other artist in the world.' - Thomas Mann. 


Count Leo Tolstoy was born in 1828 on the family estate of Yasnaya Polyana. In 1844, he entered the University of Kazan to read Oriental languages and later law, but left before completing aTolstoy Leo degree. In 1851, he joined an artillery regiment in the Caucasus. He took part in the Crimean War and after the defense of Sevastopol wrote THE SEVASTOPOL SKETCHES (1855), which established his literary reputation. After leaving the army in 1856, Tolstoy spent some time mixing in literary circles in St. Petersburg and abroad, finally settling at Yasnaya Polyana, where he involved himself in the running of peasant schools and the emancipation of the serfs. In 1862, he married Sofya Andreevna Behrs; they had thirteen children. Tolstoy wrote two great novels, WAR AND PEACE (1869) and ANNA KARENINA (1877). His works, which include many short stories and essays, earned him numerous followers in Russia and abroad. He died in 1910.






Resurrection by William Gerhardi. New York. 1934. Harcourt Brace & Company. 372 pages.


'One grows older furtively, under the watchful eyes of friends. But gradually one sees they are accomplices who condone the crime; which turns into a weakness, an indulgence, finally a boast.' - The opening lines from William Gerhardi's novel RESURRECTION.



resurrectionFROM THE PUBLISHER -


   A thirty-seven year-old man attends a ball during the course of which he has an out-of-body experience and revisits his entire past. 'Resurrection' is fiction and autobiography merged into one. For though, in its passionate argument for the resurrection of the body, it presents the entire truth of the author's experience, it remains fiction in its technique and in its surface of names and pattern. A brilliant London ball furnishes the setting. Here are encountered the singular and bright individuals whose lives and thoughts have contributed to the reality of the author's existence. Throughout this affair, dancing, falling in love, conversing, eating, he is driven by the powerful conviction that has lately come to him - the conviction that we do not die. This belief so colors and compels each moment, that he has the force to relive his entire life in the course of the evening. More than half of the book is given to an extraordinary recital, during which the author summons up the experiences he had in one year that was unusually crowded with adventure of every sort, a year of travel when he visited America, Greece, Egypt, India. Returning to the ball at last, he returns to his present and to the bewildering contrast that his new belief in an after-life provides. The whole last section is a record of the personal conflict, subtly played out in the setting with which the novel begins. New in treatment as in story, this represents William Gerhardi's most mature contribution to fiction. The style and signature are unmistakable; and they are the same that distinguished such novels as FUTILITY and THE POLYGLOTS.


Gerhardie WilliamWilliam Alexander Gerhardie was a British novelist and playwright. Gerhardie was one of the most critically acclaimed English novelists of the 1920s H. G Wells was a ferocious champion of his work. His first novel Futility, was written while he was at Cambridge and drew on his experiences in Russia fighting the Bolsheviks, along with his childhood experiences visiting pre-revolutionary Russia. Some say that it was the first work in English to fully explore the theme of 'waiting' later made famous by Samuel Beckett in WAITING FOR GODOT, but it is probably more apt to recognize a common comic nihilism between those two figures. His next novel, THE POLYGLOTS is probably his masterpiece Again it deals with Russia He collaborated with Hugh Kingsmill on the biography 'The Casanova Fable', his friendship with Hugh being both a source of conflict over women and a great intellectual stimulus. After World War II Gerhardie's star waned, and he became unfashionable, and although he continued to write, he had nothing published after 1939. After a period of poverty-stricken oblivion, he lived to see two 'definitive collected works' published by Macdonald More recently, both Prion and New Directions Press have been reissuing his works. Asked how to say his name, he told The Literary Digest 'Pronounced jer hardy, with the accent on the a: jer-har'dy. This is the way I and my relatives pronounce it, tho I am told it is incorrect. Philologists are of the opinion that it should be pronounced with the g as in Gertrude. I believe they are right. I, however, cling to the family habit of mispronouncing it. But I do so without obstinacy. If the world made it worth my while I would side with the multitude.'





The Lazy Ones by Albert Cossery. New York. 1957. New Directions. Translated William Goyen. 158 pages.





   On the outskirts of an Egyptian city stands a strange house. Its occupants are never seen, except for a servant girl who goes to market for provisions. It is a house drugged with sleep, a house drowned in impenetrable slumber. Then one day an earnest young man comes out into the street, yawning and stretching. At first his eyes can barely endure the light or his ears the noise of human activity. But with resolute determination, he sets out toward his adventure. His name is Serag. This novel, by the young Egyptian author of THE HOUSE OF CERTAIN DEATH, is Serag's story - of the ties that held him in the house of sleep and of the destiny that broke them. For all of its realism - the very feel of the Arab world is in Cossery's pages - THE LAZY ONES is basically a comic novel, but in a vein of humor, extravagant and a little perverse, that is characteristically European.




Cossery AlbertAlbert Cossery was born in Cairo in 1913, the son of middle-class parents. He studied law in Paris before the outbreak of the last war. During the war Cossery served in the Egyptian Merchant Navy. He now lives in Paris, devoting his time completely to literary work. THE LAZY ONES was his 2nd novel; a book of short stories about Egyptian life, Men God Forgot, was published in the United States by George Leite. His novel, THE HOUSE OF CERTAIN DEATH, appeared in the Directions Series in 1949.












The Tongue Set Free: Remembrance of a European Childhood by Elias Canetti. New York. 1979. Seabury Press. hardcover. 268 pages. Jacket design by Tim McKeen. Translated From German by Joachim Neugroschel. 0816491038.





   This autobiography provides a searching portrait of the personal background and the creative development of the novelist, philosopher, and social critic Elias Canetti. Although Canetti is recognized as one of the twentieth century’s most influential writers, little has been known heretofore about the man whose prophetic study of fascism AUTO-DA-FE won the Prix International for fiction and whose work CROWDS AND POWER remains a classic in the field of social psychology. But now THE TONGUE SET FREE presents the compelling story of his early life, the events, personalities, and intellectual forces which shaped the growth of this artist as a young man. The shifting environments described range from Bulgaria to Manchester, England, from Switzerland to Vienna. The primary themes concern the effect of a multilingual home, the psychological impact of a patriarchal Jewish family, and the circumstances surrounding the outbreak of World War I and its aftermath. The volume’s five major chapters are self-contained to reflect the changes in social milieu that drove Canetti to equate the quest for his own language – his own tongue - with the discovery of his true self. All readers - even those not yet exposed to the writings of Elias Canetti - will appreciate the determining experiences within this self-portrait; the author’s relationship with his father who saved him from his fear of death: the ties to his mother who opened the world of literature to him; the experiences of everyday life amid societies sliding towards decline, even collapse. And for those familiar with Canetti’s fiction, essays, and criticism, the autobiography makes a dramatic connection: the overriding themes of his entire oeuvre have their origins in the events and associations of his early years.




Canetti EliasElias Canetti (1905-1994), Bulgarian-born author of the novel Auto-da-Fé, the sociological study Crowds and Power, and three previously published memoir volumes (The Tongue Set Free, The Torch in my Ear, and The Play of the Eyes), won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1981.









James Joyce by Italo Svevo. San Francisco. 1950. City Lights Books. Reprinted Paperback Edition after A limited Edition of 1600 numbered copies were privately issued by James Laughlin for the friends and supporters of New Directions.Very Good In Wrappers. unpaginated. paperback. The cover photograph of Joyce is by Man Ray, from The Museum of Modern Art (new York) Collection. That of Svevo (back cover) is from the collection of his widow and shows Svevo in 1892 at the age of 31. 



james joyce italo svevo city lights 1950FROM THE PUBLISHER -



   A lecture delivered in Milan in 1927 on James Joyce by his friend Italo Svevo. In 1912 Italo Svevo met James Joyce, and it is Joyce that we have to thank, not only for calling attention to him at that time, but for persuading him to continue writing.



Svevo ItaloITALO SVEVO was born in Trieste in 1861 and was given a commercial education in Germany. CONFESSIONS OF ZENO was published in 1923 and was immediately hailed by European critics as the finest Italian novel. At the time of his accidental death in 1928 Svevo was one of   the best known and most successful businessmen in Triesie, though he was only beginning to enjoy fame as a writer. UNA VITA, his first novel, appeared in 1892 and was followed by SENILITA in 1898. In 1912 Italo Svevo met James Joyce, and it is Joyce that we have to thank, not only for calling attention to him at that time, but for persuading him to continue writing. The war kept Svevo away from business and gave him the opportunity. The fact that writing was never his means of livelihood made it possible for him to disregard tradition and slowly develop his own introspective style.  





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Roderick Random by Tobias Smollett. New York. 1995. Penguin Books. Edited & With An Introduction and Notes By David Blewett. 480 pages. The cover shows a detail of Lord George Graham in His Cabin by William Hogarth in the National Maritime Museum, London. 9780140433326.


9780140433326RODERICK RANDOM was published in 1748 to immediate acclaim, and established Smollett among the most popular of eighteenth-century novelists. In this picaresque tale, Roderick Random suffers misfortune after misfortune as he drifts from one pummeling to another and he still somehow manages to keep his brand of fatalistic good humor.  





   Narrated by an unheroic, apparently rudderless hero named Random, Smollett's wildly energetic and entertaining novel is held together not least by the narrator's outrage and dismay. Although RODERICK RANDOM was first published anonymously, the secret of Smollett's authorship was soon discovered, with the result that many readers thought they recognized similarities between the life of the hero and that of his creator. Certainly Roderick Random's early years - disinherited and without wealth and influence - and his university career, apprenticeship and service as a naval surgeon, vividly reflect the experiences of the author. How Random learns to survive the fickle hand of fortune, recovers his long-lost father, marries his beloved Narcissa, and dispatches his enemies is the stuff, not of autobiography, but of a novel which profoundly satirizes the moral chaos of its times. Dickens and Thackeray, among other great Victorians, applauded Smollett for his wit and invention, and in RODERICK RANDOM we enjoySmollett Tobias the novel of a pioneer opening up the frontiers of fiction.




Tobias George Smollett (19 March 1721 – 17 September 1771) was a Scottish poet and author. He was best known for his picaresque novels, such as The Adventures of Roderick Random (1748) and The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle (1751), which influenced later novelists such as Charles Dickens. George Orwell admired Smollett very much. His novels were amended liberally by printers; a definitive edition of each of his works was edited by Dr. O. M. Brack, Jr. to correct variants.





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Race Rebels: Culture, Politics, & The Black Working Class by Robin D. G. Kelley. New York. 1994. Free Press. 351 pages. Jacket illustration by Diedra Harris-Kelley. 0002916706.


002916706xWhen Kelley opened the book by describing everyday acts of rebellion while working in a McDonald's in Pasadena, California, I knew this was a book for me. RACE REBELS draws attention to 'ordinary' people and their acts of personal and everyday protest and resistance. This is the kind of history that you don't always find in your history books.





   The annals of both African American and labor history are filled with heroic figures and dramatic protest movements. The strikes, marches, and civil rights struggles that make up the main historical events were by nature extraordinary episodes led by extraordinary personalities. But what of ordinary events and ordinary people? What of the more personal and everyday forms of protest and resistance? What of the radical and underground movements that rarely find a place in African American history? In an unprecedented tour through a previously hidden layer of history, RACE REBELS demonstrates exactly how the cultural world can be a political one. Robin D. G. Kelley makes visible hidden streams of black working-class resistance in the United States, and sheds new light on aspects of black politics and culture that most scholars have dismissed as marginal to the 'main events. ' Examining the words and deeds of African Americans who often found themselves at odds with the black middle class as well as with racist whites, Kelley argues that these men and women created strategies of resistance, and even entire subcultures, that have remained outside mainstream African American politics. They rebelled against both racist oppression and middle-class 'race politics', and - in the South, in particular - did so in a way that made them appear less threatening than they really were. Whether they were masking acts of industrial sabotage with Sambo imitations, or loud-talking a white conductor from the back of a segregated trolley, they encoded their strategies of resistance in order to cover their tracks. Here, for the first time, black America's 'race rebels' are given the historiographical attention they deserve, from the Jim Crow era to the present. From movements like communism and civil rights: to places such as work, home, and the public sphere; to cultural arenas such as fashion in Malcolm X's time and gangsta rap in our own, Kelley finds black working-class people fighting battles many of us never imagined, using weapons many of us never knew existed.



Kelley Robin D GRobin Davis Gibran Kelley (born March 14, 1962) is the Gary B. Nash Professor of American History at UCLA. From 2006 to 2011, he was Professor of American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California (USC), and from 2003 to 2006 he was the William B. Ransford Professor of Cultural and Historical Studies at Columbia University. From 1994 to 2003, he was a professor of history and Africana Studies at New York University (NYU) as well the chairman of NYU's history department from 2002 to 2003. Robin Kelley has also served as a Hess Scholar-in-Residence at Brooklyn College. In the summer of 2000, Dr. Kelley was honored as a Montgomery Fellow at Dartmouth College, where he taught and mentored a class of sophomores, as well as wrote the majority of the book Freedom Dreams. During the academic year 2009–10, Kelley held the Harmsworth Chair of American History at Oxford University, the first African-American historian to do so since the chair was established in 1922. He was awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship in 2014.





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Agua Viva by Clarice Lispector. New York. 2012. New Directions. paperback. 88 pages. Translated from the Portuguese by Stefan Tobler. 9780811219907.


9780811219907FROM THE PUBLISHER -



   New translation by Stefan Tobler. Introduction by Benjamin Moser. In the forty years since its publication toward the end of its author’s life, Agua Viva, an unordered meditation on the nature of life and time, has exercised a powerful influence on Brazil’s greatest artists: one musician read it one hundred and eleven times. This new translation shows why, in a body of work as emotionally powerful, formally innovative, and philosophically radical as Clarice Lispector’s, this strange and hypnotic work stands out as a particularly magnificent triumph. ‘Glamorous, cultured, moody, Lispector is an emblematic twentieth-century artist who belongs in the same pantheon as Kafka and Joyce.’ - Edmund White. ‘A penetrating genius.’ - Donna Seaman, Booklist. ‘A truly remarkable writer.’ - Jonathan Franzen.



Lispector ClariceCLARICE LISPECTOR (1925-1977) was one of the most significant twentieth-century Brazilian writers. Her works range from essays to novelistic fiction, short stories, and children’s literature. Lispector is best known in Latin America and Europe; only recently have some of her works been translated from Portuguese into English. Other English translations include THE PASSION ACCORDING TO C. H., FAMILY TIES, AN APPRENTICESHIP OR THE BOOK OF DELIGHTS, THE APPLE IN THE DARK, and THE HOUR OF THE STAR.



STEFAN TOBLER is a translator from Portuguese and German. He won the English PEN Writers in Translation prize.


BENJAMIN MOSER’s Why This World: A Biography of Clarice Lispector was acclaimed as ‘a fascinating and welcome introduction to a writer whose best work should be better known in this country’ (Dwight Garner, The New York Times).






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