Serious Book Reviews for Serious Readers and Book-givers at the Holiday Season: A Unique Site

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Book reviews abound. has thousands. But the serious reader who gives books to serious readers generally needs more. Certainly, the New York Review of Books and the New York Times Book Review section cover all the usual suspects with aplomb and mark well the beaten path. The Texas Observer, on the other hand, has its own unique view everything, and books and book reviews are not exceptions. Readers looking for something out of the ordinary for readers who are out of the ordinary often find it in a publication that is anything but ordinary.

The Texas Observer serves up its reviewers thoughts twice a month as only an independent, non-profit journal of progressive thought can.

Check out all our reviews at ,or consider this list of recent reviews.

Elements of Style
Josh Rosenblatt looks at The Braindead Megaphone, George Saunders' first foray into nonfiction after a decade of best-selling short-story collections and novellas. Once again, Saunders focuses on the issues of consumerism, societal alienation and failures to communicate. This time, however, his approach is full of optimism and prescriptions for better living.
by Josh Rosenblatt

The Conundrum in Caracas
In Hugo Chávez: The Definitive Biography of Venezuela's Controversial President, Cristina Marcano and Alberto Barrera Tyszka take on the complex personality of a man who emerged from relative obscurity to become one of Latin America's most influential and controversial leaders.
by Susana Hayward

Fear and Doping in Iraq
In Babylon by Bus, Ray Lemoine and Jeff Neumann provide an original perspective on the war in Iraq through stories of their firsthand experiences and observations.
by Stayton Bonner

Rendering Caesar
Greg Woolf's "Et Tu Brute? A Short History of Political Murder" examines historical renderings, reinterpretations and stagings of Caesar's assassination and why it still matters today.
by Steven G. Kellman

The Economist
Historians have written so many books about Martin Luther King, Jr. that it might seem there is little left to say about the man or the American civil rights movement many think he personified. Thomas F. Jackson, a former researcher and consulting editor of the King Papers Project at Stanford University, finds otherwise, casting King as arguably the most important, and certainly the most eloquent, American political economist of the 20th century.
by Todd Moye

Moveable Feast
Can "eating local" ease global warming? A spate of new books promotes the notion that locally grown food is always the greenest option but the arguments are undernourished.
by James McWilliams

Chasing Assassins
David Talbot's new book chronicles Robert Kennedy's efforts to get to the bottom of his brother's assassination and explores how the brothers' actions may have contributed to their untimely deaths.
by Matthew Stevenson

Feminine Wilds
Women write about living on the land, solitude, and overcoming obstacles in a collection of poems and essays that brings new voices to the wilderness. Janet Heimlich reviews What Wildness is This: Women Write About the Southwest, edited by Susan Wittig Albert, Susan Hanson, Jan Epton Seale and Paula Stallings Yost.
by Janet Heimlich

For Bolaño, No Divine Miracles
Four years after his death, Chilean-born writer Roberto Bolaño is moving quickly toward literary canonization.
by Roberto Ontiveros

Heartbreak Hotel
In American Furies: Crime, Punishment, and Vengeance in the Age of Mass Imprisonment, Sasha Abramsky dissects the folly of a prison system that incarcerates so many and rehabilitates so few.
by Stayton Bonner

Earthly Emancipator
Beverly Lowry's new biography frees Harriet Tubman from the hagiographers.
by Char Miller

High Stakes Texas Bingo
It is late-1980s Houston; oil prices and S&Ls are falling like swatted marsh mosquitoes. Local Republicans fulminate, as only local Republicans can. It's pure Houston, and the only possible place for the only possible beginning to the grand political fiasco known, ever since and across the land, as l'affaire du Bingo.
by John Mecklin

Making Things Right
In Love Cemetery China Galland's story is part history lesson and part personal narrative. Tied to America's -- and Texas' -- messy racial past is Galland's own family, and she looks for atonement in the rehabilitation of an African-American cemetery she calls the "last vestige of that thriving black farm community."
by Josh Rosenblatt

Survival Among the Ruins
Paul Christensen explores post-9/11 apocalyptic fiction by looking at "The Pesthouse" by Jim Crace and "The Road" by Cormac McCarthy. These tales of warning carry a message: We still have time to fix our situation but if we fail the consequences will be truly terrible.
by Paul Christensen

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