[In this feature, we highlight a handful of the best book reviews appearing over the weekend in major newspapers.]


The Orphan Master’s Son, by Adam Johnson. Reviewed by Katherine A. Powers (Barnes and Noble Review).

This book sounds really good. The son of a kidnapped mother and orphanage warden father living in North Korea eventually becomes a kidnapper himself. By Powers’s account, Johnson has done his research and recreated a very complete, and harrowing, vision of a world that is very difficult for much of the West to fully comprehend. If the writing is as good as she makes it out to be, and the “crafty, even devious story work” Johnson uses employs holds up, this could become a book we hear a lot more people talking about.


How It All Began, by Penelope Lively. Reviewed by Machiko Kakutani (New York Times).

I really like meticulously plotted novels. This book–a “big snowball: an avalanche of events that starts with the mugging of an elderly woman”–looks to be just that. I’ve never heard of Penelope Lively, but after reading Kakutani’s review, I think maybe I should have. Her impression of the book is astute and worth checking out.


All the Missing Souls, by David Scheffer. Reviewed by Anthony Dworkin (Washington Post).

This one’s pretty heavy, but also looks quite interesting. Scheffer “was the Clinton administration’s point man on international justice … [and] senior adviser and counsel to Madeleine Albright.” During the mid-to-late 90s, the U.S. and Albright (along with other countries in the U.N. Security Council) launched an “effort to entrench accountability for mass atrocities as a central principle in international affairs.” In other words, trials for war crimes such as the world had not seen since Nuremberg. The U.N. focused first on Slobodan Milosevic and the genocide in Yugoslavia. I could keep going, but if international politics interests you, just read Dworkin’s review for yourself.


Quickly: On Dr. Seuss’s Mulberry Street. The Death of Mao, and the earthquake that preceded it. American Dervish had promise, but falls flat.


Bonus Book Trailer: You’ll need some of those old red and blue 3D glasses for this one. The purple coloration really makes the boobs in this (NSFW) video really something to look at.

Dirty! Dirty! Dirty! from Tricia McLaughlin on Vimeo.