Read this book, and you’ll never look the same way again at the change jiggling in your pocket or purse. Those little bits of copper, zinc, nickel, silver, or steel are far more than they seem. Over nearly three millennia of human history, tens of thousands of different coins have made their way into circulation. Many are the principal record we have of princes and kings who led armies in conquest and altered the course of the world’s religions. And in archaeologist Frank L. Holt’s short history of coins and the people who study them, he brings snatches of this…


You might think everything that could have been written about World War II has already reached a wider public, especially now that even the oldest veterans and survivors are passing from the scene. But you would be wrong. An excellent case in point is British author Damien Lewis’ Churchill’s Hellraisers. The book’s subtitle suggests it’s a conventional account of yet another heroic raid on a Nazi strongpoint. But it’s more than that. …


The earthshaking events of the 1960s and the cataclysm of World War II have led many of us to think about the 1950s as a boring period when little of importance happened. It was a time between epochal events. And as Jim Newton explains in his superb biography of Dwight Eisenhower during his eight years in the White House, the 1950s were notable mostly because of what didn’t happen. Despite the ferocity of the Cold War and the brinkmanship of Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, the decade never witnessed the further use of nuclear weapons. …


As the son and brother of doctors, I’ve long had an intense interest in medical history. And I’ve been more aware than most Americans what the threat of epidemic disease represents to our future. That awareness came to the surface in 2017, when I published Hell on Earth: What we can learn from dystopian fiction. In reviewing 62 dystopian novels and commenting on the circumstances they dramatized, I concluded — three years before COVID-19 — that pandemics represented the most likely of the many potentially existential threats to human life. It was an easy prediction to make, since that possibility…


Two things are apparent at the outset of The Washington War in author James Lacey’s list of “The Washington Warriors.” First, many of the names are unfamiliar to most readers. Several certainly were to me. Some have never appeared anywhere else in my reading on World War II even though Lacey describes them as “FDR’s inner circle.” And, second, he pulls no punches, rendering such judgments as “he wasted his talent on revenge plots and petty jealousies” and “a man without friends or the desire to make any.” You’re not likely to find such characterizations in books by academic historians…


If it’s too early for a post-mortem on the COVID-19 pandemic, America’s publishers haven’t gotten the memo. Amazon lists 642 titles in response to the query “books about the COVID-19 pandemic.” The pandemic still rages on, filling hospitals in heavily impacted states and killing the unvaccinated in disturbing numbers. Not to mention the huge numbers of people falling ill and dying in other countries.

Still, at least two leading nonfiction authors have seen fit to render judgment on the American response to the disease. Michael Lewis’ The Premonition: A Pandemic Story artfully views the pandemic from within the public health…


In two books published over the course of the past decade, Brad Stone has told the inside story of Amazon’s rise. The Everything Store and Amazon Unbound chronicle the company’s growth from a quirky online bookstore founded a quarter-century ago into the corporate juggernaut it has become. Now another journalist, Alec MacGillis, surveys Amazon from the outside. In Fulfillment: Winning and Losing in One-Click America, he roams across the country from El Paso to Seattle, to Northern Virginia and the small towns of Ohio and Pennsylvania. At every location, he introduces Amazon employees, local officials, and activists bound up in…


Ask just about anyone why we live so much longer these days, and the answer will come quickly. It’s the doctors, right? Continuing advances in medical science surely account for those centenarians who keep cropping up on obituary pages. After all, human life expectancy more than doubled over the past century, from a global average of 32 years in 1900 to 73 today. But was it the doctors who brought that all about? Steven Johnson says not. In Extra Life: A Short History of Living Longer, he argues with jaw-dropping effectiveness that medical advances are just one of many factors…


The phrase “nightmare scenario” in the title of this rushed exposé of the Trump Administration’s response to COVID-19 has a double meaning. It refers, of course, to the pandemic itself. Not the worst case scenario like the 1918 influenza epidemic, which killed an estimated 50 million people, but bad enough. After all, at this writing, 600,000 Americans (and a worldwide total of at least 4,000,000) have died of coronavirus disease. Our nation’s death toll is greater than that from all the wars fought by the United States throughout the twentieth century (and it’s not over yet).

But the title also…


Americans have short memories. Our failure to read history leads us to believe that nothing in our past could equal the dangers posed by the crises that threaten us today. We forget those times when the nation’s very existence hung in the balance. 1776, when the American project might well have foundered in its infancy. 1861, when the country shattered into two warring states. 1941, when we entered a global war we could have lost. And 1971. Then, movements for radical change erupted in every corner and 2,500 terrorist bombs went off in the United States. More than 300,000 US…

Mal Warwick

Author, book reviewer, serial entrepreneur, board member

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store