Books of The Times: Toxic History, Poisoned Water: The Story of Flint

“If you were going to put something in a population to keep people down for generations to come, it would be lead,” Hanna-Attisha writes. It is possibly the most studied neurotoxin. But Clark describes how it was embraced by America anyway, as a “key to prosperity,” added to brass fixtures and paint — “built into the infrastructure.” Children are especially vulnerable; their bodies absorb up to five times as much lead as adults, and it leads to aggression and antisocial behavior, learning difficulties, organ damage, seizures, coma, death. There is…

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Match Book: Horse and Writer: What to Read to a Recuperating Pet

Dear Match Book, My horse, Liebchen, is confined to her stall for six months because of an injury. You can imagine how difficult confinement is for a herd animal. I am a voracious reader who finishes at least one book per week, so I am reading to Liebchen to help pass the time. In addition to being a horse lover I am also an attorney and a mediator, as well as a gardener. The only way I make it through Wisconsin winters is by reading. Some books I recently loved…

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Footsteps: The Balancing Act of Arches

To be sure, it wasn’t always as solitary as he made it sound. Abbey’s second wife and young son often stayed with him in his trailer, where life could begin to feel like “a prison term.” He hankered for the smoky barrooms of Moab now and again, and passed an off-season amid “the degradation and misery of my fellow citizens” in Hoboken, N.J. Matt Smith had reminded me of something else: “There’s a romantic haze about Abbey that radiates out from Moab,” he had said — a pervasive, facile regard…

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The Book Review Podcast: The Latest in Cyberwarfare

The Latest in Cyberwarfare David E. Sanger talks about “The Perfect Weapon,” and Stacy Horn discusses “Damnation Island: Poor, Sick, Mad & Criminal in 19th-Century New York.” Cyber conflict has “emerged in the past few years as the dominant way that countries try to undercut each other without actually going to war,” says David E. Sanger, a national security correspondent for The Times. On this week’s podcast, Sanger discusses his new book, “The Perfect Weapon: War, Sabotage, and Fear in the Cyber Age.” Image CreditVictor Schrager “What the Russians did…

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Harlan Ellison, Intensely Prolific Science Fiction Writer, Dies at 84

Harlan Ellison, a furiously prolific and cantankerous writer whose science fiction and fantasy stories reflected a personality so intense that they often read as if he were punching his manual typewriter keys with his fists, died on Wednesday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 84. His wife, Susan Ellison, confirmed his death but said she did not know the cause. He had had a stroke and heart surgery in recent years. Mr. Ellison looked at storytelling as a “holy chore,” which he pursued zealously for more than 60…

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Profile: Australians Can’t Get Enough of the Barefoot Investor

Mr. Pape’s folksy manner delivers down-home truths: Don’t get swept up in trendy investments; pay off your debts; analyze how banks are managing your money. As a result, it’s uncontroversial with experts. Chris Richardson, an economist at Deloitte in Canberra, said that Mr. Pape’s major tenets, like his argument that Australians have generally overvalued property and undervalued stock trading “are more real then people realize.” Another cornerstone of the Barefoot Investor’s plan that resonates with economists is the importance of renegotiating bank fees, which, according to the Reserve Bank of…

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Children’s Books: Brief Tales for New Readers and Little Listeners From Philip Stead and More

Short stories are for everyone, even the wee. Three new collections — very different from one another in looks and tone — offer distinct pleasures for young readers. One’s soothing; one’s sly; and one’s downright uproarious. VERNON IS ON HIS WAY (Roaring Brook, 64 pp., $19.99; ages 4 to 8), by Philip C. Stead, is the sweetest and gentlest of the three. The subtitle, “Small Stories,” is fitting; the focus is on mood, on reflection, on the moments when the natural world seems kind and safe. Stead’s use of charcoal,…

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Revisiting Simone de Beauvoir’s ‘The Second Sex’ as a Work in Progress

Simone de Beauvoir, the 20th-century French writer and philosopher, published her foundational feminist text “The Second Sex” in 1949, predating by more than a decade the women’s liberation movement that swept the Western world. An impassioned treatise on the female plight under the oppression of a male-dominated work force, this book — with such prescient and controversial themes as the comparison between gender and racial conflicts among the working class — stirred controversy in Europe and America and solidified her legacy as one of history’s most independent and influential thinkers.…

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Inside the List: As Their Publicists Cringe, Best-Selling Authors Enter the Political Fray

Though it probably gives their publicists heart palpitations, some best-selling novelists are choosing to enter the political fray on social media. J.K. Rowling has long used her Twitter feed to address social and political issues; so has the romance powerhouse Sarah MacLean, who says, “Writing is always political, but now more than ever, it’s important for those of us who have a platform to use it to draw attention to what’s happening in the world.” Stephen King — whose novel “The Outsider” is at No. 3 this week — is…

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Essay: Should We Worry About Trump’s Fawning Admiration of the Military?

Americans generally think of the Cold War military as a threat to civilians, but Huntington, a Harvard political scientist who died in 2008, contended that it was often the other way around. America’s enduring liberal traditions were, he claimed, profoundly antimilitary, seeing large armed forces as threats to liberty, democracy and peace. Moreover, ambitious civilian factions could seek power over the military’s affairs, leading to “civilianizing the military, making them the mirror of the state.” Huntington was appalled both by zealous civilians trying to politicize the military, like Senator Joseph…

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