Wendy Smith is a contributing editor at The American Scholar and the author of Real Life Drama: The Group Theatre and America, 1931-1940. She has been a frequent contributor to the Los Angeles Times Book Review, The Washington Post's Book World, and the Chicago Tribune.


Lyndon Johnson has long held the reputation as the premier wheeler dealer in American politics, but a new biography of their marriage gives his wily wife a lot of the credit for his coups.

Our Founding Feet

From Bill Robinson and Fred & Ginger to Michael Jackson’s big-bang moonwalk and ‘Soul Train.’ In ‘America Dancing,’ a history of those who danced past the rules and defined the country.

Bad Beginning

Creating separate Pakistani and Indian states with the Partition of 1947, Great Britian sowed the discord and conflict that continue to flourish well over half a century later.

No Blueprint

Born in Europe amid the insanity of World War I, Dada was an art movement like no other—it rejected reason and agendas and embraced absurdism wherever it found it.


Allen Klein, the controversial music executive often accused of getting rich off his artists is recast in a more sympathetic light.


Vermeer the painter and Leeuwenhoek the scientist were contemporaries in 17th century Delft, where each man pioneered breakthroughs that upended conventional wisdom about reality.

Unmagical Mushrooms

Jill Ciment’s satirical but ultimately humane new novel conjures a supermold plague that ruins the lives of thousands of Brooklynites in this tragicomedy of errors.


The covers were often trashy, the contents were often high art, but the low cost of the ubiquitous paperback created millions of new readers in America.