The Darkness That Comes Before: The Prince of Nothing Book One
R. Scott Bakker (Overlook)

Bakker's challenging debut, the first in a new trilogy in the Tolkien tradition, gratifies those weary of formulaic epic fantasy and deserves a broader audience.

Bait and Switch
Larry Brooks (Signet)

This sexy, surprising new thriller paints an ugly portrait of greed in America—as seen through the eyes of its delightfully cynical protagonist, Wolfgang Schmitt. In Schmitt, Brooks has found the vehicle that may finally push his smart, innovative thrillers into the mainstream, where they belong.

Heaven Lake
John Dalton (Scribner)

Sober and searching yet sublimely comic, this impressive debut about a modern-day missionary in Taiwan was heralded by early buzz, but some lukewarm reviews hobbled it. We think it is worth another look, for its sophisticated treatment of religious faith and its unvarnished portrayal of both Chinas.

The Surrogate Thief: A Joe Gunther Mystery
Archer Mayor (Mysterious)

Mayor deliveres his strongest entry yet in his mystery series featuring Vermont cop Joe Gunther, but his tag as a regional author has prevented him from breaking out.

The Last Crossing
Guy Vanderhaeghe (Atlantic Monthly)

This sweeping epic novel of the search for a lost Englishman in the raw Indian territories of the U.S.-Canadian Western borderlands in the late 19th century was a Canadian bestseller, but it has yet to take off here. That's puzzling, because Vanderhaeghe (The Englishman's Boy) is a prodigiously gifted writer who makes the West, its fierce weather, rugged landscapes and contrary characters come vividly to life.


Evolution's Rainbow: Diversity, Gender, and Sexuality in Nature and People
Joan Roughgarden (Univ. of California)

This brilliant and accessible work of biological criticism has the potential to revolutionize the way readers conceive of gender and sexuality. Readers more accustomed to traditional binary categories of "male" and "female," "straight" and "gay," will be surprised at how a multivalent "rainbow" portrait emerges from Roughgarden's rigorously scientific, deeply personal and insistently ethical point of view.

The Philosopher's Kitchen: Recipes from Ancient Greece and Rome for the Modern Cook
Francine Segan (Random)

The ancient Greeks and Romans invented everything from flipping a coin for making a decision to the political filibuster. And as food historian Segan shows, they invented many of our favorite dishes, too—or at least their predecessors. With the Olympics in Greece this summer, this book should have received more media attention.

Chechnya: Life in a War-Torn Society
Valery Tishkov, foreword by MikhailGorbachev (Univ. of California)

Iraq may be the war of the year, but that doesn't mean the fighting has stopped elsewhere. In this excellent book, a Russian ethnographer and former minister of nationalities under Boris Yeltsin presents one of the most important, and honest, accounts of Chechnya's horrors yet.

The Devil's Highway: A True Story
Luis Alberto Urrea (Little, Brown)

Writer and poet Urrea, who was born in Tijuana, Mexico, tracks the paths 26 Mexican men took from their home state of Veracruz all the way norte—only 12 made it safely across the border. Urrea gives names and identities to the faceless and maligned "wetbacks" and "pollos," and highlights the brutality and unsustainable nature of the many walls separating the two countries.

Parenting with Pride—Latino Style: How to Help Your Child Cherish Your Cultural Values and Succeed in Today's World
Carmen Inoa Vazquez (Rayo)

While political books and articles speculate over the effect that the growing Hispanic-American population will have on U.S. culture at large, Vazquez addresses the questions that are uppermost on most Latino parents' minds: how much should they encourage their children to assimilate? How can they teach them to take pride in their heritage? Her volume is an invaluable, and timely, addition to the parenting field.

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