Putin’s Kleptocracy: Who Owns Russia? by Karen Dawisha. (Simon & Schuster) Vladimir Putin and his associates have merely used “democracy for decoration” during his tenure as president, Dawisha argues. She presents the scope of his corruption in damning detail, cataloging cases of money laundering, bribery and election fixing, all designed to benefit the country’s elite. (More than half of the $50 billion earmarked for the Sochi Olympics ended up in the pockets of Putin’s allies.)
The Laughing Monsters by Denis Johnson. (Picador/Farrar, Straus & Giroux) After an invitation from his friend Adriko, Nair, a crooked NATO employee, has returned to Sierra Leone for the first time in nearly a decade. Johnson’s novel follows the two men (who once used Africa as a playground for their moneymaking schemes) as they capitalize on post-9/11 anxieties around security and defense.
The World Of Raymond Chandler: In His Own Words edited by Barry Day. (Vintage) Drawing on Chandler’s letters, novels, short stories and personal photographs, Day pieces together the author’s life, including his school years in England, early literary ventures and success as a pulp novelist, with particular focus on the origins of Chandler’s fictional hero, Philip Marlowe.
The Marauders by Tom Cooper. (Broadway) In a small bayou town recovering from Hurricane Katrina, Gus Lindquist, a one-armed shrimper, is fixated on finding a pirate’s lost treasure and reversing his fortunes. Cooper’s debut novel follows Lindquist on his journey as he encounters vivid characters from Louisiana’s swamps, including twin drug lords, a nostalgic fisherman and an amoral BP employee.
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Boy On Ice: The Life And Death Of Derek Boogaard by John Branch. (Norton) Branch, a Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times journalist, outlines the impact of hockey’s brutality on Boogaard, one of the game’s pre-eminent enforcers. Spanning Boogaard’s Saskatchewan childhood through his professional success and death at 28, the book is particularly “heartbreaking because it shows us, in tender detail, a life consumed by our unholy appetites,” Steve Almond wrote in The Times.
Mr. Mac And Me by Esther Freud. (Bloomsbury) When the real-life Scottish architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh arrived in a sleepy Suffolk village on the precipice of World War I, his outsider status put him at odds with local residents. Freud’s novel imagines him through the fictional perspective of Thomas, a lonely teenager who forges an unlikely friendship with the eccentric stranger.
The News Sorority: Diane Sawyer, Katie Couric, Christiane Amanpour – And The (ongoing, Imperfect, Complicated) Triumph Of Women In Tv News by Sheila Weller. (Penguin) At turns critical and admiring of her subjects, Weller charts the successful paths of these three women in an industry more hospitable to men.
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