When Columbus crossed the Atlantic in 1492, his journey prompted the exchange of not only information but also food, animals, insects, plants and disease between the continents. In a new book, Charles C. Mann describes the aftermath of Columbus' arrival in the Americas.
The author's What Happened to Sophie Wilder features a convert to Catholicism, and another character who struggles to understand her faith. Beha tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross about his Catholic upbringing, irony's place in fiction and literature's therapeutic aspects.
In The Twilight War, historian David Crist outlines the secret history of America's 30-year conflict with Iran. Based on interviews with hundreds of officials as well as classified military archives, the book details how the covert war has repeatedly threatened to bring the two nations into open warfare.
In The Violinist's Thumb, writer Sam Kean goes inside our genetic code, looking at the stories written by the fundamental building blocks within us. The book explains things like why some people can't handle drinking coffee and why some human babies are born with tails.
The Norwegian author does his best to show NPR's Eric Westervelt that Oslo really does have a seedy side. In his fiction, at least, Nesbo's city is full of shady characters who draw the attention of the reckless, alcoholic detective Harry Hole.
In 2010, writer Don Winslow hit it big with his crime novel, Savages. Although he'd already written 12 novels, Savages was the book that really launched his career. It made it to the top of The New York Times best-sellers list. His new book, The Kings of Cool, is a prequel to Savages.
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