11 New Books We Recommend This Week

11 New Books We Recommend This Week

VESPER FLIGHTS: New and Collected Essays, by Helen Macdonald. (Grove, $27.) This collection of essays by Macdonald, the author of the internationally best-selling memoir “H Is for Hawk” (2015), muddies any facile ideas about nature and the human, and examines how we bring our prejudices, politics and desires to our notions of the animal world. The essays are “short, varied and highly edible,” our critic Parul Sehgal writes. Macdonald’s work “is an antidote to so much romantic, reductive writing about the natural world as pristine, secret, uninhabited — as a convenient blank canvas for the hero’s journey of self-discovery.”

TIME OF THE MAGICIANS: Wittgenstein, Benjamin, Cassirer, Heidegger, and the Decade That Reinvented Philosophy, by Wolfram Eilenberger. Translated by Shaun Whiteside. (Penguin Press, $30.) Eilenberger’s book begins in 1919 and ends in 1929, elegantly tracing the life and work of four figures who transformed philosophy in ways that were disparate and not infrequently at odds. The subjects of this vibrant group portrait are Martin Heidegger, Walter Benjamin, Ludwig Wittgenstein and Ernst Cassirer. “Eilenberger is a terrific storyteller,” our critic Jennifer Szalai writes, “unearthing vivid details that show how the philosophies of these men weren’t the arid products of abstract speculation but vitally connected to their temperaments and experiences.”

EVIL GENIUSES: The Unmaking of America: A Recent History, by Kurt Andersen. (Random House, $30.) America reached a grim turning point in the 1970s, Andersen argues, and today risks being “the first large modern society to go from fully developed to failing.” Its political economy, he says, was hijacked by capital supremacists, who preached and enacted, a return to a pre-New Deal order. “Evil Geniuses” is an “essential, absorbing, infuriating, full-of-facts-you-didn’t-know, saxophonely written” book, our reviewer Anand Giridharadas writes. “The book is an intellectual double take, a rereporting of the great neoliberal conquest, by a writer who kicks himself for missing it at the time.”

THE TUNNEL, by A. B. Yehoshua. Translated by Stuart Schoffman. (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $24.) In this novel, Zvi Luria, a retired engineer in Tel Aviv, is in the early stages of dementia and takes a job in the desert to keep his mind sharp. The project involves building a road through an area where a Palestinian family lives, hiding out amid ancient ruins. Yehoshua masterfully entwines social commentary with a portrait of a mind in decline. “I found great beauty, not answers, in Zvi’s essential human decency,” our reviewer Peter Orner writes. “Rather than retreat inward and hide, he chooses — yes — to live.”

TRUE CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS: The Investigation of Donald Trump, by Jeffrey Toobin. (Doubleday, $30.) In a narrative that unfolds like a tragedy, Toobin argues that Trump came away from the Mueller investigation basically unscathed because Mueller proceeded with an excess of caution. It’s an “absorbing, fast-paced narrative” that is “anchored by detailed scenes of chaos inside the Trump administration and meetings between Trump’s and Mueller’s lawyers,” our reviewer Katie Benner writes. But even after Toobin’s analysis, “ultimately Mueller’s caution and restraint remain an enigma.”

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