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'Beautiful Ruins,' Both Human And Architectural

Jess Walter's latest novel spans decades and traverses the Atlantic to create a kaleidoscopic collection of "beautiful ruins." Characters include a hotelier, a young script reader and real-life movie star Richard Burton. NPR's Maureen Corrigan says the book is a "literary miracle."

After War And Fame, Dad Is Author's Challenge

Jarhead author Anthony Swofford's second memoir recounts a war much closer to home — a private one waged with his father in the years following the success of his book.

A Future President Finds Himself In New Obama Bio

In Barack Obama: The Story, journalist David Maraniss chronicles the president's "classic search for home." Maraniss says Obama's young life was defined by his experience of being an outsider — a feeling that stayed with him well into early adulthood.

Want A Winner? These Books Made The Critics' Cut

Lynn Neary talks to three critics about the books you absolutely shouldn't miss this summer. Critic Laura Miller of, says it's a particularly rich literary summer because in election years, publishers release their juiciest books before the fall.

No Longer A Southern Writer, Ford Goes To 'Canada'

In Richard Ford's latest novel, retired school teacher Dell Parsons reflects on the summer when his parents — two unlikely criminals — robbed a bank and shifted his young life from Montana to Saskatchewan, where he was taken in by a murderous fugitive.

Rediscovering A Forgotten Boxer's 'Longest Fight'

Years before Jack Johnson and decades before Muhammad Ali, a man named Joe Gans was blazing trails as the first African-American boxing champion. Gans is mostly forgotten now, but a new book uncovers the story of his epic 42-round title defense against a white boxer in 1906.

A Shriver Learns It's Harder To Be Good Than Great

Great people do great things, says author Mark Shriver, but they're often not good people. Shriver's new memoir of his father, R. Sargent Shriver, is a loving look at a man he says managed to be both great and good.

Novelist John Irving Plays Not My Job

We invite the author of The World According to Garp to answer three questions about the classic trail mix known as gorp. Irving has just published a new novel called In One Person.