Feature

Also of interest ... in lives on the edge

<em>Daring Young Men</em> by Richard Reeves; <em>The Harvard Psychedelic Club</em> <br /> by Don Lattin; <em>You Are Not a Gadget</em> by Jaron Lanier; <em>The Swan Thieves</em> by Elizabeth K

Daring Young Men by Richard Reeves (Simon & Schuster, $28)This “wonderfully told” history of the Berlin Airlift brings to life the West’s “first major Cold War victory,” said Daniel Ford in The Wall Street Journal. In 1948, the Soviet Union’s Red Army blockaded the German capital, forcing the Allies to try something unprecedented: a prolonged air campaign to feed 2 million civilians. It was Harry Truman who “changed the course of history,” but Reeves uncovers “now-forgotten heroics” among the lesser known men who pulled off the feat.

The Harvard Psychedelic Club by Don Lattin (Harper, $25)“I’d be lying” if I said that I didn’t enjoy “just about every page” of this “rollicking” portrait of four men who pioneered America’s 1960s romance with psychedelic substances, said Dwight Garner in The New York Times. Timothy Leary, Huston Smith, Andrew Weil, and Richard Alpert—the future Ram Dass—are the kind of “brilliant but damaged” characters you might find in an off-kilter film comedy. Author Don Lattin has a shaky narrative sense, but gets the story’s spirit just right.

You Are Not a Gadget by Jaron Lanier (Knopf, $25)Jaron Lanier’s mind “is a fascinating place to hang out,” said Ben Ehrenreich in the Los Angeles Times. One of the inventors of virtual reality, the famously hirsute computer programmer embraced the early Internet because it seemed to promise a flowering of individual creativity. But he’s long been warning that the Web is instead devolving into an oppressive, conformist “hive mind.” Though Lanier’s first book may be “a bit curmudgeonly,” his worries can’t be entirely dismissed.

The Swan Thievesby Elizabeth Kostova (Little, Brown, $27)The author of the 2005 best-seller The Historian devotes her second fat novel to a deranged contemporary artist who’s obsessed with a woman who lived a century ago, said Laura Miller in BarnesandNoblereview.com. Even when her subject isn’t vampires, Elizabeth Kostova doles out her plots “at a pace that can only be called sedate.” But she retains her “gift for atmosphere,” and The Swan Thieves “exerts a good bit of the earlier book’s hypnotic thrall.”

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