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Bug-eyed sensationalism: A book to keep you buzzing


"Sex on Six Legs: Lessons on Life, Love and Language from the Insect World"

By Marlene Zuk

(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)


What it is: No mere encyclopedia of bugs, "Sex on Six Legs" delivers exactly what its subtitle promises: lessons on life, love and language from the insect world. In this page-turner, entomologist and first-rate raconteur Marlene Zuk (who is a professor of biology at the University of California...

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Haiti’s Tragic History

For the better part of two centuries, outsiders have been offering explanations that range from racist to learned-sounding — the supposed inferiority of blacks, the heritage of slavery, overpopulation — for why Haiti remains the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. None of these work: nearby Barbados has a greater population density, and about 90 percent of its people are descended from slaves, yet it outranks all but two nations in Latin America on the United Nations Human Development Index. Neither Barbados nor any other country, however, had so traumatic and crippling a birth as Haiti.


As a French possession, it was once the most lucrative colony on earth, producing nearly one-third of the world’s sugar and...

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The Chicago Tribune's favorite books of 2011

A look at the titles that kept us reading well into the night

As 2011 comes to a close, we take a minute to reflect on the year's best in the world of publishing. Here is the list of our favorites, all published this year: 

... "The Invisible Line: Three American Families and the Secret Journey from Black to White" by Daniel J. Sharfstein

Racial passing has never seemed more painful or culturally oppressive than in this notable study of three families who once crossed those lines. Law professor Sharfstein dynamically portrays the risks these families took over the years. (Penguin Press, $27.95)

For the whole list,...

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 For the full list, click here. 

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The Star’s Top 100 Books of 2011

A year of magic and change

"This is the year when Borders went under, when e-books really took off, when a vacationing President Barack Obama picked up a three-in-one reprint of Missouri writer Daniel Woodrell’s earliest novels from the 1980s.

This is the year when protest erupted, when tablets became the rage, when vampires and zombies maintained their clutch on the pop-culture consciousness of a generation.

Yes, you can look at life in the bookish margins as a world of woe. Or you can see it for what it really is: a circus, a place of magic, a playground of invention, inspiration and collective introspection.

All of that and more is reflected within these pages. This is our annual roundup of the year’s best reading. These are the books — 100 novels, works of nonfiction, children’s titles and more — that made the most impression on our...

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 Here and Now --Monday, November 28, 2011

Egyptians Vote Amid Uncertainty Over Army’s Role

To listen to the story, click here.

"Egyptians from almost every social class and religious community turned out in unexpectedly large numbers Monday for the first fully free elections in the country’s history, with extensive police and army personnel present to prevent violence.

Lines in some places stretched for blocks, despite the days of unrest over the military’s insistence that it will keep its current powers after the...

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 RIGHTS GONE WRONG: How Law Corrupts the Struggle for Equality. By Richard Thompson Ford. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $27.) The Stanford professor argues that the progressive left and the colorblind right are guilty of the same error: defining discrimination too abstractly and condemning it too categorically, with similarly perverse results. 


For the full list, click here.

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Misunderstanding Racial Justice

"There’s no more polarizing legal battle in America today than the one over the meaning of discrimination. On the left, many progressives insist that any policies and practices that disadvantage people on the basis of race, sex, age or disability should be illegal, and some have carried this principle to illogical extremes — suing to block ladies’ nights at singles bars, for example, or even to forbid Mother’s Day. On the right, many conservatives insist that the Constitution is so colorblind that the government may never take race into account under any circumstances, and the Supreme Court under Chief Justice John Roberts has carried this principle to similarly illogical extremes — claiming that...

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 Great Waters: An Atlantic Passage and Smithsonian Ocean author Deborah Cramer's ON THE EDGE: A Tiny Bird, An Ancient Crab, And An Epic Journey, which follows the Red Knot, a bird the size of a cell phone that flies a distance as far as the moon over the course of its lifetime, and untangles the mysteries of its seemingly impossible migration, to Jean Thomson Black at Yale University Press, by Wendy Strothman at The Strothman Agency(World English).

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Children's / Young Adult: Sashi Kaufman's debut GO WEST, the story of a classic underachiever who hits the breaking point of parental mismanagement and runs away on a spontaneous road trip with a group of dumpster-diving street performers, to Andrew Karre at Carolrhoda Lab, by Lauren MacLeod at The Strothman Agency (World)

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