Nov 18, 2012 — Athanasius Kircher, a 17th-century Jesuit priest, was a renaissance man in name and deed. He strove to learn about almost everything. Unfortunately, many of his inventions and theories were pure nonsense. John Glassie writes about Kircher in his new book, A Man of Misconceptions.
Dec 20, 2010 — Anjanette Delgado has had it with the self-assured smugness of old-school detectives. She recommends three tales celebrating amateur sleuths — a clerk, a captain and an 11-year-old girl — as they fumble through their newfound detective duties.
Nov 24, 2009 — This week, Michael Crichton's last book, ever, sails the seas of pirate adventure. In story collections: Alice Munro's strong and subtly mysterious women; Ha Jin's immigrants caught between two worlds. And a space-program history finds surprising drama in the unmanned voyages.
Jul 26, 2009 — This biography of Isaac Newton is a real pageturner. Thomas Levenson pulls readers into the tale of Newton's stint as Warden of London's Royal Mint.
Jun 5, 2009 — Isaac Newton is best known for his studies of physics and for developing the three basic laws that describe motion. In Newton and the Counterfeiter, author Thomas Levenson describes another side of Newton: his career as the crime-fighting head of the Royal Mint.
Oct 7, 2008 — Think the Pilgrims were all straight-laced seriousness and tight buckles? Think again, says author Sarah Vowell. In her new book, The Wordy Shipmates, Vowell explores the lively history of America's ancestors. Just who were those folks living in the "shining city on a hill"?
Apr 29, 2008 — The slavery of Europeans was a prelude to the mass slavery of Africans in the Americas. For more, Farai Chideya talks with the co-author of a new book about the harsh and surprising reality of white indentured servitude in colonial America.
Nov 11, 2006 — How did Louis the XIV manage all of his kingly duties — from invading the Spanish Netherlands to engineering the extraordinary gardens at Versailles — when he was always in the bedroom?
Aug 4, 2005 — Joan DeJean, author of The Essence of Style: How the French Invented High Fashion, Fine Food, Chic Cafes, Style, Sophistication, and Glamour!, aims to prove that almost everything we think of as glamorous can be traced back to the 1600s and the tastes of French monarch Louis XIV.
Apr 23, 2005 — Anne Bradstreet is considered America's earliest poet, and a new biography details her life. Scott Simon speaks with Charlotte Gordon, author of Mistress Bradstreet: The Untold Life of America's First Poet.