Baum on Books Joan Baum is a recovering academic from the City University of New York, who spent 25 years teaching literature and writing. She has a long career as a critic and reviewer, covering all areas of cultural history but particularly enjoys books at the nexus of the humanities and the sciences.With an eye on reviewing fiction and nonfiction that has regional resonance for Connecticut or Long Island, Joan considers the timeliness and significance of recently published work: what these books have to say to a broad group of readers today and how they say it in a distinctive or unique manner, taking into account style and structure as well as subject matter.
Baum on Books

Baum on Books

From WSHU

Joan Baum is a recovering academic from the City University of New York, who spent 25 years teaching literature and writing. She has a long career as a critic and reviewer, covering all areas of cultural history but particularly enjoys books at the nexus of the humanities and the sciences.With an eye on reviewing fiction and nonfiction that has regional resonance for Connecticut or Long Island, Joan considers the timeliness and significance of recently published work: what these books have to say to a broad group of readers today and how they say it in a distinctive or unique manner, taking into account style and structure as well as subject matter.

Most Recent Episodes

Book Review: 'Working'

Want to be a political journalist or biographical historian? Forget graduate or journalism school. Read Robert Caro's "Working: Researching, Interviewing, Writing." Caro, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and recipient of so many other prestigious awards, got them for superb investigative reporting on brilliant, ruthless men. The books include "The Power Broker" about Robert Moses – "the greatest builder in the history of America, perhaps in the history of the world" – and "The Passage of Power,"

Book Review: 'Grandpa Magic'

Allan Kronzek, a professional magician who lives in Sag Harbor, has pulled off a wonderful trick – writing a how-to book for grandparents that's designed to connect them with their grandkids. Called "Grandpa Magic," but intended also for Grandmas, the book declares that its 116 amazing brain teasers, perplexing puzzles and simple stunts will wow kids of all ages. And lure them away from their digital devices for a while. Kronzek hopes to engage kids in an imaginative world full of mystery,

Book Review: Typewriters - Iconic Machines From The Golden Age of Mechanical Writing

Before the computer, there was the typewriter. It revolutionized the way we worked and did business. It could also be a thing of beauty. A new book takes a look at both the utility, and the design, of the typewriter. Book critic Joan Baum has this review.

Book Review: Typewriters - Iconic Machines From The Golden Age of Mechanical Writing

Book Review: 'The Kortelisy Escape'

In his new novel "The Kortelisy Escape," Leonard Rosen crafts an ingenious, complex thriller that's deeply moving, as well as highly original. The hook is the use of magic tricks to advance the plot and theme. The magical connection between the two main characters, whose alternating points of view move the narrative along, makes this unusual story memorable. He's Nate Larson, a grizzled 66-year old just out of Danbury prison when the story begins. She's his 14-year-old savvy, sardonic

Book Review: 'Lowdown'

It's cold, still dark early, a time, as the cliché has it, to curl up with a good book. And I've got one for you, if "good" means almost non-stop reading because you care about the main characters, even if they're not good. And they're not, in Anthony Schneider's new novel, "Lowdown." They're Mafia, but as "The Godfather" and Tony Soprano proved, complex goodfellas can fascinate. In "Lowdown" Schneider delivers an absorbing tale about a guy whose crime family has real-life connections to the

Book Review: 'The Other Woman'

A fun and games thriller, "The Other Woman" turns on intrigue about Russian espionage, and links present-day Russian attempts to sabotage Western democracies to the machinations years ago by, arguably, the most notorious double agent of the 20th century – the head of Britain's intelligence service, MI6, Kim Philby. In fact, it's now exactly 30 years since the unrepentant Philby died, in Moscow, having fled there in 1963 once he was identified as a member of the infamous British spy ring, The

Book Review: 'Boats Against The Current'

What's it going to be folks, Great Neck or Westport? We're talking about the setting of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby . In the decades following its publication in 1925 – to mixed reviews, it should be said – this now celebrated, adored and elegantly written tale of money, romance and identity in the Jazz Age, was understood to have taken place in fictional stand-ins for towns on the North Shore of Long Island. However, in a 1996 article in The New Yorker, scholar and journalist Barbara

Book Review: 'The Woman In The Window'

It's quite an accomplishment to write a psychological thriller these days. We're so sophisticated, so jaded by edgy crime in fiction and movies, not to mention real life, that we're suspicious when we're told a new book's come along that's a nail-biting page turner. Cynics that we are, we also tend to think that best-seller suspense tales must be contrived. But what debut novelist A. J. Finn does with "The Woman in the Window" is remarkable. He's created a breathless, stunning twist-and-turn

Book Review: 'Saving Sin City'

Every now and then when it seems the world can't get any greedier or immoral, a book comes along to remind us that the world's always seemed spiritually bankrupt to the generations who lived through their own mad, bad times. That's the implied premise of Southampton writer and historian Mary Cummings' fascinating narrative about New York's Gilded Age, which she revisits by way of one of the most bizarre murders in American history and its judicial aftermath, often called "the trial of the

Book Critic Joan Baum Remembers Philip Roth

American novelist Philip Roth has died. He was 85. Roth's work is known for its unflinching look at the human character. His style was deeply autobiographical. Many of his works were set in his hometown, Newark, N.J., and his characters often struggled with the complexities of integrating into mainstream American life.

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