Thomas Powers’s books include The Confirmation, a novel, and The Killing of Crazy Horse. (April 2017)


The Big Thing on His Mind

William Faulkner in front of his house in Oxford, Mississippi, 1947

William Faulkner: A Life Through Novels

by André Bleikasten, translated from the French by Miriam Watchorn with the collaboration of Roger Little
It would be a grave mistake for anyone trying to understand race in American history to overlook the novels of William Faulkner. Beneath their literary complexity can be found the clearest statement by anyone of the core abuse that has driven black–white conflict since slavery times, but first you have …

The Private Heisenberg and the Absent Bomb

Werner and Elisabeth Heisenberg, Göttingen, Germany, circa 1946

My Dear Li: Correspondence, 1937–1946

by Werner and Elisabeth Heisenberg, edited by Anna Maria Hirsch-Heisenberg and translated from the German by Irene Heisenberg.
When they were separated by Heisenberg’s scientific travels or the war itself, Elisabeth and Werner exchanged more than three hundred letters that survived the fighting. Both later wrote accounts of the war years, but their letters, filled with the worries and hopes of ordinary family life, offer a quieter, more intimate picture of the years when Heisenberg ran the program that was going nowhere. Husband and wife both knew that the German secret police were free to open and read their letters at will, and tried to avoid dangerous ground.

The Charms of George Armstrong Custer

George Armstrong Custer, right, with his captured West Point classmate Confederate Lieutenant James B. Washington and an escaped slave after the Battle of Fair Oaks, or Seven Pines, Virginia, May 31–June 1, 1862

Custer’s Trials: A Life on the Frontier of a New America

by T.J. Stiles.
The nineteenth-century cavalry officer George Armstrong Custer, who was a general at twenty-three and dead at thirty-six, has probably been the subject of more books than any other American, Lincoln excepted. All until now move swiftly through the brilliant feats of arms of the Civil War career that made Custer …


Down the Path of Obsession

Charlie Hunnam as Percy Fawcett and Tom Holland as Jack Fawcett in James Gray's The Lost City of Z, 2016

James Gray’s film The Lost City of Z is distinguished by three things—a kind of ethnographer’s fascination with the behavior of men in groups; beautiful photography of the forest lushness of the Amazon basin, roughly two-thirds the size of the United States; and the driving force it gives to Percy H. Fawcett’s determination to do something that would dazzle the world.

Girls and Indians

A frame from Garrett Price's White Boy, November 5, 1933

Garrett Price, who drew hundreds of cartoons and a hundred covers for The New Yorker, also created a long-forgotten comic strip called White Boy, now republished in its entirety. The hero was just that, a slender, nameless lad who left everything familiar when he was captured by Indians, given to a woman whose own son had been killed by whites, and adopted into the tribe.

The Book of Little Bighorn

The warring life of the Northern Plains tribes that resisted white invasion in the 1860s is the subject of A Lakota War Book from the Little Bighorn: The Pictographic “Autobiography of Half Moon.” The book is a collection of seventy-seven Lakota and Cheyenne drawings, accompanied by extensive analysis and commentary by the social anthropologist Castle McLaughlin. It will be published next year by Harvard’s Houghton Library, where the drawings were stored but little noticed for eighty years. What sets these drawings apart from others of their kind is the persuasive argument made by McLaughlin that most of the drawings, and the book as a whole, represent an Indian account of episodes during the conflict known as “Red Cloud’s War” (1866–1868), and that it may be possible to identify three of the artists.