The Soiling of Old Glory

Stanley Forman's Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph of a black man being attacked by a white teen wielding an American flag hits like a punch to the gut. Louis Masur's fascinating book examines the picture - taken at a Boston anti-busing rally in 1976 -- from multiple angles. After a court order mandated busing to desegregate Boston's public schools, the city simmered with tension. Masur covers the events that culminated in the unprovoked assault on attorney Ted Landsmark and the photograph's effect on the anti-busing movement, which had identified itself with patriotic resistance to tyranny, denying any roots in racism. Masur's close reading of the image references everything from representations of the Crucifixion to the artwork of Jasper Johns to the iconic image of the flag raising on Iwo Jima. He reveals the photograph's telling distortions -- the assailant was swinging the flag, not aiming it at Landsmark, and the man who appears to be restraining Landsmark was in fact helping him to his feet -- while contending that the nationally-circulated image ultimately brought about "progress and healing." Landsmark himself captures that spirit of forgiveness -- attacked amid cries of "Get the nigger" -- he subsequently devoted years to public service in Boston. "I always identified with the young men who attacked me," he says of the working-class Irish Catholics who dominated the anti-busing movement. "I've never forgotten that I grew up in projects." -

July 22: On this day in 1941, on his twelfth wedding anniversary, Eugene O'Neill presented the just-finished manuscript of Long Day's Journey into Night to his wife, Carlotta.

Crime fiction legends Dennis Lehane and Michael Connelly discuss the new book that unites their beloved sleuths Patrick Kenzie and Harry Bosch.

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Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
The Hundred-Year House

When a poetry scholar goes digging through the decrepit estate of his wife's family to uncover a bygone arts colony's strange mysteries, he awakens a tenacious monster: his mother-in-law. A wickedly funny take on aging aristocracies from author Rebecca Makkai (The Borrower).

Watching Them Be

What makes a film actor into a larger-than-life movie star? James Harvey's passionate, freewheeling essays explain why there are some faces (from Greta Garbo's to Samuel L. Jackson's) from which we cannot look away.

Landline

What if you called up the spouse on the verge of leaving you -- and instead found yourself magically talking to his younger self, the one you first fell for?  Rainbow Rowell, author of the YA smash Eleanor & Park, delivers a sly, enchanting take on 21st-century love.