CONTENT Recent brain research reveals physical differences in the brains of boys and girls that have implications for schooling and beyond.
GIST Industrial schools, where same-aged students sit at desks and proceed in lockstep through a curriculum, are poorly designed for the way boys learn-and one result is that many boys drop out of high school and end up in trouble. Drawing from science and experience, Mr. Gurian and Ms. Stevens offer teachers and parents concrete ways to help boys succeed in school and life.
CONTENT Advances in technology make it possible for individuals and small groups to compete against, or bypass entirely, powerful institutions.
GIST Individuals can produce their own CDs and films, publish magazines, blog, and communicate in ways that people a generation ago could only dream about. No longer can dictatorships control the flow of information by controlling the media. (True, but the controversy over the Muslim cartoons-spread by this same technology-shows that anything is only as good as the people using it.)
CONTENT Lincoln's assassination sets in motion a massive manhunt for John Wilkes Booth and his fellow conspirators at the same time it plunges official Washington into chaos.
GIST This book reads like the script for an action adventure movie with Mr. Swanson alternating between the desperate conspirators, who are surprised to discover their deed universally condemned, and the relentless pursuers determined to capture them. Mr. Swanson plays up Lincoln's dreams and the role of "chance" events to heighten the suspense of this true story.
CONTENT A first-person account by the CIA field commander in Afghanistan who marshaled forces to bring down the Taliban.
GIST A red label on the cover announces: "The book the CIA doesn't want you to read!" Not content with cover hype, the publisher streaks the pages with black lines to indicate materials redacted by the CIA. Despite its marketing, the book positively recounts the CIA's role in defeating the Taliban; Mr. Berntsen criticizes Bill Clinton and George Tenet's risk-averse CIA bureaucracy.
The cartoon riots are the latest wake-up call to the West concerning aggressive Islam. Books that predict disaster in that long-term struggle include David Selbourne's The Losing Battle with Islam (Prometheus, 2005) and Lorenzo Vidino's Al Qaeda in Europe (Prometheus, 2006). Their dire forecasts should be taken seriously, but we should remember all the predictions from the 1940s through the 1970s that the United States and Western Europe would crumble under pressure from Communism-but it was the Soviet empire that finally did the crumbling.
Can the West rouse itself again? One troubling sign is Europe's abandonment of Israel, and one book that vividly conveys the reality of living on the frontlines is Israel: Life in the Shadow of Terror, edited by Nechemia Coopersmith and Shraga Simmons (Targum); don't read it unless you are ready to feel the grief of parents whose children were blown up by suicide bombers.