Just in time for Mad Men, Lynn Peril on NPR

March 22, 2012

Lynn Peril, author of Swimming in the Steno Pool, reviews three books written by women who were also secretaries on NPR's "All Things Considered":

USA Today Calls Panther Baby an “Astonishing Evocation of the 1960s”

March 01, 2012

Deirdre Donahue at USA Today calls Jamal Joseph's PANTHER BABY "both a compelling personal memoir and an astonishing evocation of the 1960s — the riots, the rage, the radical chic."

Full review:

As a 15-year-old straight-A Bronx high school student, Jamal Joseph joined the Black Panthers. Today he is a film professor at Columbia, the same university he advocated burning down in 1970. He earned his college degree in Leavenworth Federal Prison. (He was convicted of aiding an FBI fugitive.)
Panther Baby is both a compelling personal memoir and an astonishing evocation of the 1960s — the riots, the rage, the radical chic. Though he was brought up with love by an adoptive African-American couple, the orphan forged a powerful family-like bond with the Panthers.
The most striking segment is Joseph's time in prison, where he began writing and directing plays for the inmates. The experience transformed him into a poet, director and writer. — Deirdre Donahue

Winner of Erard’s Online Language Contest Revealed

February 28, 2012

Michael Erard, author of BABEL NO MORE, recently posted a mash-up of people around the globe reciting a story from the book in their own native (or favorite second) tongue. Erard challenged his online followers to identify all of the languages. Today, he unveiled the winner of the contest: one Michael Chen of Cambridge, MA. Chen accurately guessed the most - but not all - of the nineteen languages used in the video (those being English, Ukrainian, Korean, Hindi, French, Indonesian, Irish, Swedish, Mandarin, Portuguese, Italian, Esperanto, Spanish, Mongolian, Dutch, Danish, Thao, German, Finnish).

For those who want to see how close they came to winning, here is the video with all languages identified:

Moving interview with Jamal Joseph on

February 15, 2012

In 1968, Jamal Joseph was a Bronx high-school student on his way to college. But it was the turbulent 1960s and, radicalized by the times, he joined the militant Black Panthers. Joseph’s new book, Panther Baby (Algonquin) tells the story of his journey from young Panther to defendant in the famous Panther 21 trial to his time in jail to his current job as chairman of Columbia University’s School of the Arts film division….

Listen to Michael Erard on NPR’s “Diane Rehm”

January 26, 2012

Listen in as Erard (BABEL NO MORE) and Gary Marcus (GUITAR ZERO) discuss a variety of issues related to language-learning, music and the brain. Favorite moment: Erard points out how silimar the words for "cauliflower" and "syphilis" are in Chinese, and how this has the potential to prove very embarrassing for for the novice when ordering dinner at a restaurant in Shanghai.

Congratulations to Daniel Kahneman: three months on the NYT list!

January 20, 2012

THINKING, FAST AND SLOW by Daniel Kahneman will have been on the New York Times bestseller list for twelve consecutive weeks as of this Sunday, January 29th.

“[A]n astonishingly rich book: lucid, profound, full of intellectual surprises and self-help value… urge everyone to buy and read it.” – Jim Holt, New York Times Book Review

Great New York Times Book Review for BABEL NO MORE

January 20, 2012

“Among the surprising qualities of “Babel No More,” Michael Erard’s globe-trekking adventure in search of the world’s virtuosos of language learning, is that a book dealing with language acquisition and polyglot linguistics can be so gripping. But indeed it is – part travelogue, part science lesson, part intellectual investigation, it is an entertaining, informative survey of some of the most fascinating polyglots of our time.”—Peter Constantine, New York Times Book Review

Leymah Gbowee on Daily Show

November 15, 2011

Jon Stewart interviews Leymah Gbowee about MIGHTY BE OUR POWERS over two stellar segments on the Daily Show 11/14. In the interview, Leymah describes the state of Liberia post-war….a pretty sober look at where war and corruption leave a country, even decades later.

Kahneman’s ‘Thinking, Fast and Slow’ debuts at #3 on the NYT list!

November 09, 2011

Daniel Kahneman's THINKING FAST AND SLOW hits the New York Times hardcover nonfiction list at #3 the week of 11/6. And Jenny Schuessler gives the book an "Inside the List" shout out:

WRITING FAST AND SLOW: The Nobel Prize-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman’s “Thinking, Fast and Slow” lands at No. 3 on the hardcover list this week, which isn’t bad for a book that almost didn’t get written. In a profile in the December issue of Vanity Fair, Michael Lewis describes meeting Kahneman for the first time four years ago and hearing from the man himself how bad Kahneman’s forthcoming book was going to be. After a few years of agonized writing, Kahneman — in a weird twist on a behavioral economics experiment — paid four academic experts in decision making $2,000 apiece to read his manuscript and tell him if he should just abandon the project. The reviews, unfortunately, were rapturous. “By this time it got so ridiculous to quit again,” Kahneman told Lewis. “I just finished it.”

Kakalios talks quantum mechanics on Studio 360

October 15, 2011

Jim Kakalios (The Physics of Superheros and The Amazing Story of Quantum Mechanics) tells us all why we should care about quantum mechanics on PRI's Studio 360. Listen up for the part when he identifies the movie "Them" about giant mutated, irradiated ants by a two second audio clip. You also have to love his introduction: "I'm a physics professor and comic book nerd. Sorry ladies - I'm already married."

Gbowee wins 2011 Nobel Peace Prize!

October 07, 2011

Leymah Gbowee, author of MIGHTY BE OUR POWERS, wins the Nobel Peace Prize on the last day of her book tour. The New York Times reports on her final book event-turned-press conference at the Interchurch Center in Manhattan.

Washington Post rave review of Sharlet’s SWEET HEAVEN

August 19, 2011

Beautiful review by Michael Washburn of SWEET HEAVEN WHEN I DIE in today's Washington Post:

“The book belongs to the tradition of long-form, narrative journalism best exemplified by writers such as Joan Didion, John McPhee, Norman Mailer and Sharlet’s contemporary David Samuels. Sharlet deserves a place alongside such masters, for he has emerged as a master investigative stylist and one of the shrewdest commentators on religion’s underexplored realms.”