Category: Contemporary Nonfiction

  • Deprivation, survival and life lessons

    Paul O’Connor takes a break from his readings of history to review a book about something that, unfortunately, is as contemporary as it is terrible: life in North Korea. By Paul T. O’Connor IN ORDER TO LIVE. By Yeonmi Park. Penguin Audio. 9 hours and 30 minutes. Read by Eji Kim. 8 CDs. $40. Download…

  • Extraordinary courage

    Paul O’Connor has been reading and thinking about spies this summer, and he’s developed high standards. Reviewed by Paul T. O’Connor AVENUE OF SPIES: 
A TRUE STORY OF TERROR, ESPIONAGE, AND ONE AMERICAN FAMILY’S HEROIC RESISTANCE IN NAZI-OCCUPIED PARIS. By Alex Kershaw. Random House Audio. Read by Mark Deakins. Seven hours. $35. Also available in…

  • A spy tale, stranger than fiction

    Reviewed by Paul T. O’Connor THE BILLION DOLLAR SPY: A TRUE STORY OF COLD WAR ESPIONAGE AND BETRAYAL. By David E. Hoffman. Penguin Random House Audio. Read by Dan Woren. 11 hours and 54 minutes. $20. Also in hardcover from Doubleday. 262 pages. $28.95 Adolf Tolkachev despised his government, and for 35 years the American…

  • Look around you

    Paul O’Connor’s summer reading is not for the faint of heart. Here he moves from military history and politics to drug cartels. Reviewed by Paul T. O’Connor ZERO, ZERO, ZERO. By Roberto Saviano; Translated by Virginia Jewiss. Penguin Audio. Read by Paul Michael. 16 hours, $45. Also available in hardcover from Penguin Press. 416 pages.…

  • Israel, the U.S. and one man’s journey

    If Paul O’Connor indulges in light books for summer reading, he keeps it a secret. Here he tackles a hefty book on a serious – and timely – subject. Reviewed by Paul T. O’Connor ALLY: MY JOURNEY ACROSS THE AMERICAN-ISRAELI DIVIDE.  By Michael B. Oren. Books on Tape. $50. 16 hours, 52 minutes. Read by…

  • Commas and other fun things

    For decades, I unquestioningly followed Associated Press and newspaper style when it comes to, among other things, commas: There should not be a comma before the last “and” in a series. In recent years, however, I have discovered that there is a rebellion brewing among the younger generation. Many of my journalism students at the…

  • The real Reagan

    Paul O’Connor has tackled an exhaustive (and exhausting?)  but worthwhile new biography of Ronald Reagan. Reviewed by Paul T. O’Connor  REAGAN: THE LIFE. By H.W. Brands. Penguin Random House Audio. Read by Stephen Hoye. 32 hours. $60. Also available in hardcover from Doubleday. 737 pages. $60. My mother really liked Ronald Reagan. She considered him…

  • A gold-medal book

    I don’t know how this book got under the stack on my table, languishing for months while I read and listened to lots of others. I do know that I’m glad I retrieved it recently, after having seen it listed as one of the best books of the 21st century so far. It deserves that…

  • The real dangers on campus

    Paul O’Connor is a father. He’s a veteran journalist. And he teaches college students. He has considerable insight into this book, and he says that every parent should read it. Reviewed by Paul T. O’Connor MISSOULA: RAPE AND THE JUSTICE SYSTEM IN A COLLEGE TOWN. By Jon Krakauer. Read by Mozhan Marno and Scott Brick.…

  • A harrowing story of Vietnam

    Forty years after the fall of Saigon, Paul O’Connor finds that a new book about a heroic mission in the Vietnam War makes for engrossing, if disturbing, reading. Reviewed by Paul T. O’Connor LEGEND: A HARROWING STORY FROM THE VIETNAM WAR OF ONE GREEN BERET’S HEROIC MISSION TO RESCUE A SPECIAL FORCES TEAM CAUGHT BEHIND…