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19 august 2014

First off, let me say that I'd have had more use for Alexandra Horowitz's Inside of a Dog if it had been about cats. I've lived with dogs and been very fond of them, but for the past few years it's been mostly me and my cat Whisper Wilson, and I have no idea what he's thinking at times.     read more

18 april 2014

African-American soldiers in the Civil War Union army probably exist for young people today mostly as Denzel Washington, Morgan Freeman, and a cast of thousands – if they exist in any active form at all. When I was growing up in Civil War Centennial times, they were invisible. If their contributions become better-known in the sesquicentennial and its legacy, Bob Luke and John David Smith's book Soldiering for Freedom will play its part.     read more

14 august 2014

Diego Velázquez's portrait of Juan de Pareja is one of the most recognizable works in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. But till I read Elizabeth Borton de Treviño's I, Juan de Pareja recently, I didn't even know the name of its subject, let alone his place in art history.     read more

13 august 2014

Paula Lee's Game arrived in timely fashion, since a friend had just given us a packet of frozen pheasant breasts. Somebody'd shot them somewhere ("watch for shot!" was inscribed on the packet), and the instructions were to brine and cook them. This left some leeway. I could have treated them like chicken – proverbially, they were going to taste like chicken no matter what I did with them. But I needed some sort of reference point to start from in turning this remnant of wild animal into food.     read more