During the mid-19th century, an unexpected craze swept America: butterfly collecting. Eager to move on from the Civil War and driven by Europe's long-standing fascination with the insect, the movement captured the interest of Americans from all ages and walks of life.
In an extensive book, Butterfly People: An American Encounter with the Beauty of the World, William Leach documents this butterfly phenomenon — from its founders and followers, to its eventual fall.
Washington, D.C. gets a bad rap: politicians love to run against it, voters love to complain about it — but New York Times Magazine correspondent Mark Leibovich says he's actually an optimist about our nation's capital.
Leibovich's new book is This Town: Two Parties and a Funeral — plus plenty of valet parking! — In America's Gilded Capital. It's a lively account of the sometimes incestuous mix of media and politics in D.C., and unlike many books about politics, it doesn't have an index.
When religious scholar Reza Aslan was 15, he went to an evangelical Christian camp. For the first time, he heard the gospel story — the story of Jesus. It was a profound experience for him, and he immediately converted. But later, when Aslan went to college and began working toward a degree in the New Testament, he found he had doubts.
It reads like a Dan Brown novel: An indecipherable, cryptic medieval text, shrouded in mystery, filled with entrancing images, disappears for hundreds of years and then suddenly resurfaces at an Italian castle.
A short time ago, in a garage not so far away, Steve Leahy was having a problem with his armor. A tiny piece of plastic, maybe just a few millimeters wide, stuck out from the shin guard.
"I know it's a minor detail, and while you're wearing it, someone may never notice," Leahy says. "But I know it's there and I know it shouldn't be, so we like to put the effort in to make it as perfect as possible."
In a new work of crime fiction from author Mukoma Wa Ngugi you still have the detective and his buddy, the mysterious body that turns up at the outset, and the crazy bar where the cops and criminals hang out together. Only this time, we're not in Scandinavia, or South Florida or on Mystic River. We're in a Nairobi beset with political violence, hotel bombings and ethnic warfare.