Author

Wendy Smith

David Sheff’s Game Over: How Nintendo Zapped an American Industry, Captured Your Dollars, and Enslaved Your Children paints an evenhanded picture of the Japanese company that has dominated the video-game market since Atari’s crash in 1983, but one that does not gloss over Nintendo’s near-monopolistic practices, which prompted accusations of price-fixing and retailer intimidation. Vivid portraits of the principal players and shrewd insights into Japanese and American corporate culture make this an unusually enjoyable business history. A-

Read Full Story

Fannie Lou Hamer first gained national attention as the most articulate member of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic party, which attempted to unseat the state’s all-white delegation at the 1964 Democratic convention. Kay Mills’ absorbing biography, This Little Light of Mine: The Life of Fannie Lou Hamer, reminds us that Hamer’s commitment to helping Southern blacks went beyond politics to encompass food co-ops and educational programs.

Read Full Story

”There has been no trace of drama in my life save the inner one,” wrote the painter Marsden Hartley (1877-1943) in the mid-1930s. But that inner drama included grappling with Cubism before most Americans even knew what it was, homosexual passions that seethed beneath the surface of such abstract paintings as Portrait of a German Officer, and a love-hate relationship with his native state of Maine, finally resolved in the emotionally charged landscapes of his last years.

Read Full Story

From the Ames shovel and the Bowie knife to the Cadillac and the Macintosh, the objects Americans love have been more than tools. ”How did devices become the vehicles of our desires?” Esquire columnist Patton asks and then answers in Made in USA, a book so rich in ideas and anecdotes it would be intimidating if it weren’t so much fun.

Read Full Story

Combining a shrewd industrial history of radio and TV with cogent analyses of shows from Amos ‘n’ Andy to Seinfeld, Jones (coauthor of The Beaver Papers) examines in Honey, I’m Home! Sitcoms: Selling the American Dream, the sitcom as a reflection of changing public perceptions about the family and society. He argues that 1950s domestic comedies were grounded in a broad social consensus — everyone gets what they want before the final commercial — which broke down in the late ’60s.

Read Full Story

Coscarelli’s novels have a hard edge unusual in commercial fiction — her last book, Pretty Women (no relation to the film of similar title), went so far as to have a covertly political theme — a Watergate style cover-up in the armed forces. This time out, Coscarelli uses Hollywood as the backdrop for a well-rounded portrait of a pathological family in Leading Lady. Aggressive, ambitious Laverne Thomas gives her 8-year-old daughter, Bunny, to a lecherous movie executive.

Read Full Story

V.I. Warshawski's creator

With her quiet manner and shock of prematurely gray hair, novelist Sara Paretsky doesn’t seem much like her streetwise protagonist, a cop’s daughter with a smart mouth and a bad attitude. But it takes only a few minutes’ conversation to realize that V.I. Warshawski’s appealing intensity comes straight from her creator, a 44-year-old writer who sees plenty wrong with the world and has said so in six increasingly complex and skillful books. (Blood Shot and Burn Marks are her most recent.)

Read Full Story

The sisters of suspense

Sue Grafton’s only peer on the best-seller lists is Sara Paretsky, whose novels featuring private investigator V.I. Warshawski keep getting better (Blood Shot and Burn Marks are her most recent). Grafton and Paretsky reinvented the female sleuth as a tough, independent professional capable of collaring a criminal with her own two hands — or fists, if need be. Following their lead, women mystery novelists have put heroines on the job as private investigators, police officers, and lawyers in a wide variety of contemporary series.

Read Full Story