Journalist Philip Weiss latest book, American Taboo, tells the story of a 1976 murder in which an American Peace Corps volunteer died at the hands of one of her colleagues.
Close Range by Annie Proulx (Scribner, $14). A great stylist, Proulx discovered in the West the geography for a grim moral understanding of life. Wyomings unwritten motto is, Take care a your own damn self, and it reverberates through these violent and tumultuously funny stories.
MacArthur and Sutherland by Paul P. Rogers (Praeger; $87 for Vol. 1, $115 for Vol. 2). Nearly 50 years after serving as MacArthurs secretary in the Philippines, Rogers sought to record his wartime memories so that they might have the same impact as Picassos Guernica. He did not achieve that high goal, but his lacerating closed-door scenes, including the effects of extramarital affairs, are the best descriptions of military command during World War II.
How Israel Lost by Richard Ben Cramer (Simon & Schuster, $24). The best explanation to be found of why conflict in the Mideast never ends. Cramer, a leading journalist, is by turns mournful and humorous as he shows how the occupation of Arab land has coarsened Israel. But his overall point is one that Americans would do well to heed: nationalismthe sanctification of a stateis a dead end in a crowded world.
In a Free State by V.S. Naipaul (Vintage, $12). Naipauls recent work has been unfocused. This book is the best of his prime, a scorching report on how the world works. Sexuality, dictatorship, racism, misogyny are all packed perfectly into a dreamy travelogue about two expatriates in war-torn Uganda.
The Journalist and the Murderer by Janet Malcolm (Vintage, $12). Journalists continually try to pull this slender perfect arrow from their sides, but it is buried there for as long as they conduct interviews. I reread it every few years to remind myself of the snares of the journalistic process.
And the Dead Shall Rise