All In the Family

All In the Family

What would it take to build a dynasty? To gather together ambitious relatives, pump out ambitious children and use your collective skill to own a good chunk of the world? You'd figure these people would just wind up killing each other in the end, but some can make it work. I don't quite have the same drive […]

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Firestarters

Firestarters

Politicians, activists, blowhards, pundits, loudmouths and the like all pretend to think they're on the vanguard of a glorious revolution. One quick dip into history proves it's all been done before. Just when you think you've been inspired, you hear about someone who was led by the messages of angels. Donald Spoto's Joan follows Joan of Arc […]

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Based On a True Story

Based On a True Story

I love it when authors and filmmakers claim that their works are based on true stories. It usually means that the original story went through so many different versions, there's no way to tell anymore what's true and what's false. Fur trapper Hugh Glass had a string of bad luck in 1823 when, in the […]

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How Do We Know That?

How Do We Know That

The world can be an unknowable blob, and we just can't figure it out. Whether it be history, science, psychology or whatever, unraveling how we know what we know can be just as confusing as knowing the stuff to begin with. That's why I'm fascinated by books about the research and discovery we use to learn […]

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That’s Not My Western

That's Not My Western

America loves a simple western. Maybe we'll cheer for a hero, or maybe we'll be gutsy revisionists and cheer for an antihero. Whatever the case, we get to have a grand old time watching strangers shoot each other. There are books out there, however, which take the American West and make it the mystery that called […]

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13 Ways Advertisers Lie To You. #8 Will Blow Your Mind!

Marketing

Did you actually click on that? What's wrong with you? What have you ever learned from clickbait? But now that I've caught you, here are some books that might actually show you how marketers trick your brain into wanting all the things they have for sale. Nothing screams good marketing like classic American flimflam. John R. […]

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Bad Writing Is Fine Art

Bad Writing Is Fine Art

Maybe your idea of a good time is to get together with friends and watch Tommy Wiseau's magnificently awful The Room. Or maybe you like to play a party game where everyone takes turns reading The Eye of Argon. You'll be happy to know that the celebration of unfortunate art and literature has a proud history. Even C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. […]

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Oddities and Curios

Oddities and Curios

Every now and then, to satisfy your morbid curiosity, it does you good to search out the abnormalities which make the world such a fascinating bundle of matter, mind and soul. From museums filled with various deformities to strange tourist destinations spread across the country, there are plenty of ways to witness general weirdness. Dr. Mütter's Marvels is the biography of […]

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I Like the Moon

I Like the Moon

Sometimes, when you look up at the sky, mostly at night, or maybe during the day, there's this big glowing ball that doesn't blind you when you look at it like the sun does. It's got some dark spots on it, and it's kinda creepy and cool. I've heard that some people even went there, and […]

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Look at All the Colors

Look at All the Colors

If you're the kind of person who can see in color -- and I deeply apologize to those who can't -- it's an easy thing to take for granted, but it doesn't take much research to see how the subtlest changes in hue can change a person's worldview. Drunk Tank Pink isn't all about color, but […]

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