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Editors' Picks: Week of February 4–11

By kileyturner
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This week, books about violent men, a country come apart, a superpower rising, a cult, and a woman caught in the chaos of modern Ethiopian history.
Mad Blood Stirring

Mad Blood Stirring

The Inner Lives of Violent Men
edition:Hardcover
also available: Paperback

With a rare clarity and fearless honesty, journalist Daemon Fairless tackles the horrors and compulsions of male violence from the perspective of someone who struggles with violent impulses himself, creating a non-fiction masterpiece with the narrative power of novels such as Fight Club and A History of Violence.

A man, no matter how civilized, is still an animal--and sometimes a dangerous one. Men are responsible for the lion's share of assault, rape, murder and warfare. Conventional wisdom chal …

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American War

American War

A Novel
edition:Paperback
also available: Hardcover

A unique and eerily convincing masterwork, American War takes a scalpel to American politics, precisely dissecting it to see what would happen if their own policies were turned against them. The answer: inevitable, endless bloodshed.


     In a disturbingly believable near future, the need for sustainable energy has torn the United States apart. The South wants to maintain the use of fossil fuels, even though the government in The North has outlawed them. Now, unmanned drones patrol the skies, a …

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Excerpt

An ancient heirloom wristwatch lay upon a rock in the middle of the creek like so many of the functionally deceased things the refugees carried with them—the washed-out photos and the obsolete or corrupted stores of memory and the keys to homes long since bombed out or otherwise demolished—it bore a vital link to some distant, happier past.
“Used to be my grandfather’s,” Ethan said. “My mom’s gonna kill me if I don’t get it back.”
        “So go in there and get it,” Sarat said.
        “Don’t be gross. I’m not gonna step in shit.”
        Another boy whispered something in Ethan’s ear. He liste3ned and nodded.
        “Why don’ you get it, Sarat?” he said. “I’ll give you fifty bucks if you do.”
        Sarat shrugged. “All right.”
Once more she pushed the boys aside and walked away from the creek, toward the nearest tents. A few of the children followed, among them Ethan, who held Sarat by the wrist and warned her against telling any grown-ups.
“I’m not telling anybody,” Sarat said, shaking the boy’s hand loose. “Stop being so scared of everything.”
She walked between two tents, where an unused clothesline hung. She unhooked the metal holders on either tent and rolled the line around her fist. Then she returned to the creek. The children followed.
At the banks she uncoiled the line and tossed it into the ditch. On her first try she fired too far left and then overcompensated. But on the third throw the hook landed just past the rock on which the watch was stranded. Slowly she pulled on the line.
“Careful, careful!” Ethan cried from behind her. “You’re gonna knock it in.”
“Be quiet,” Sarat said.
        She tugged gently on the line until the metal hook rested on the rock just beside the watch. With surgeon’s hands she edged the hook closer until it dislodged the watch from its place. The watch began to slide down the polished side of the rock toward the stream, but caught on the edge of the hook. A couple of the children yelped in triumph.
“You got it!” Ethan yelled. “Pull it in, pull it in.”
        “Hold on,” Sarat said. “Give me that bat of yours.”
One of the boys picked up a baseball bat nearby and handed it to Sarat. With the line still in her left hand, she lifted the bat with her right. She held it as far in front of her as she could without losing her balance. Slowly she began lifting it up underneath the line to create a pivot point. Then she reeled in the catch. The hook lifted, the watch rising with it. As it came off the rock the watch swung and skimmed across the surface of the creek. Coiling the line around her wrist, Sarat pulled the watch in and set it on the ground.
She turned to Ethan. “Pay up,” she said.
The boys stared at the watch on the ground as though it had landed from outer space. Finally Ethan pulled a wad of Redbacks from his pocket and paid Sarat what he owed her.
The children began to disperse. Some of the boys revived their baseball game, a little further away from the creek this time. One of the younger girls, whom Sarat did not know, offered to return the clothesline for her.
As she made to leave, Sarat was approached by another of the boys, a fourteen-year-old from Georgia named Michael. She knew him only tangentially. He was the older brother of a boy named Thomas, who as a toddler had suffered a shrapnel injury that had frozen his mind at the age of two. The older brother had been sleeping in the same bed the night the Birds came, but through blind chance had escaped uninjured.
“Hey, Sarat—wait, girl, where are you going so fast?” Michael said. He pointed at the creek. “I’ll give you another fifty if you go in.”
The departing children halted. Sarat eyed them, and then Michael. He was wiry and lanky, swimming inside his too-big Sinopec Solar T-shirt, a hand-me-down from the Augusta docks.
Sarat said nothing.
“C’mon now,” Michael said. “You ain’t scared, are you?”
He had pasted on his face a smirk with which Sarat was well acquainted. She’d seen the same look on so many of the other boys’ faces over the years. A self-satisfied grin. It was the smirk of knowing he’d left her with an impossible choice—step in the river of filth or be labeled a coward.
Even then, at such a young age, she understood that smile for what it was: a mask atop fear, a balm, for the crippling insecurity of childhoods deeply damaged. They were fragile boys who wore it, and their fragility demanded manage. Sarat knew the boys better than they knew themselves. And she knew there was no winning this dare. That was the point—for there to be no winning, only different magnitudes of losing.
“How do I know you’re not lying,” she said.

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Claws of the Panda

Claws of the Panda

edition:eBook
also available: Paperback

Claws of the Panda tells the story of Canada’s failure to construct a workable policy towards the People’s Republic of China. In particular the book tells of Ottawa’s failure to recognize and confront the efforts by the Chinese Communist Party to infiltrate and influence Canadian politics, academia, and media, and to exert control over Canadians of Chinese heritage. Claws of the Panda gives a detailed description of the CCP’s campaign to embed agents of influence in Canadian business, po …

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Tarry This Night

Tarry This Night

edition:Paperback

A powerful dystopian novel set during a new American civil war, about a polygamist cult leader and his followers.

In this eerily relevant, cautionary novel, a civil war is brewing in America. Below ground, a cult led by the deluded and narcissistic Father Ernst is ensconced in an underground bunker, waiting out the conflict. When the "Family" runs out of food, Ruth, coming of age and terrified of serving as Ernst's next wife, must choose between obeying her faith and fighting for survival. Cousin …

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The Wife's Tale

The Wife's Tale

A Personal History
edition:Hardcover

A FINALIST FOR THE GOVERNOR GENERAL'S LITERARY AWARD: The true story of one indomitable woman caught in the tumult of an extraordinary century in Ethiopia, The Wife's Tale has the sweep and lyrical power that captivated readers of Abraham Verghese's Cutting for Stone.

A hundred years ago, a girl was born in the northern Ethiopian city of Gondar. Before she was ten years old, Yetemegnu was married to a man two decades her senior, an ambitious poet-priest. Over her lifetime her world changed beyond …

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