16 books we read this week

Critique of ‘Stalin’s Library’: The Soviet Union’s Red Leader Was a Red Reader

The Soviet leader read extensively about military strategy and history – and finding ammunition against his political enemies. Review by Michael O’Donnell

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“The Quiet Before” review: a smooth start to the social revolution

Movements for radical change, argues one writer, endanger themselves by getting too loud, too fast. Review by Gal Beckerman

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Three books on the repression of democracy in Hong Kong and China

The rise of authoritarianism in Hong Kong – and elsewhere in China – is documented in a trio of recent books. Review by L. Gordon Crovitz

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“Free” review: A childhood in communist Albania

Lea Ypi’s parents were not party members and did not have the right “biographies” to succeed under Enver Hoxha’s regime. Review by Tunku Varadarajan

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“The Pages” and “Rebellion”: a book escaped from the Nazi pyre

A rare copy of Joseph Roth’s novel “Rebellion” survives the Nazi eradication of Jewish books and becomes the narrator of its own story. Review by Anna Mundow

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Fiction: “Mercy Street” by Jennifer Haigh

Without forgetting “Very Cold People” by Sarah Manguso and “My Father’s Diet” by Adrian Nathan West. Review by Sam Sacks

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Florine Stettheimer review: Manhattan Fantastica

A painter of vivid colors, Stettheimer collaborated with Virgil Thomson and delighted Andy Warhol, but rarely sold his work. Review by Tim Page

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Children’s Books: A Final Tale by Gary Paulsen

Plus “I must betray you” and “Smile with African style”. Review by Meghan Cox Gurdon

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Critique of “Rien”: Staring into the void

Ancient and modern thinkers wrestled with one of the most fundamental questions: does nothing exist? Review by Max Norman

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Five Best: Books on American Political Parties

Selected by Michael Kazin, the author, most recently, of “What It Take to Win: A History of the Democratic Party”.

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Colin L. Johnson