Samuel Adams: A Life

The crucial question addressed by Ira Stoll's new biography of revolutionary firebrand Sam Adams isn't put directly until the final pages: "If Adams was so instrumental in achieving American independence and so influential even afterward, why then has his fame faded so badly with time?" The answer has to do with a stark contradiction: Sam Adams was a conservative revolutionary, an activist whose radical approach to politics was based upon his indefatigable commitment to protecting the ancient rights of Englishmen. In helping to make America independent from England, Adams ceaselessly harked back to England's own history.

Whereas American founders such as Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and James Madison were steeped in the rationalist political philosophy of the European Enlightenment -- an 18th-century phenomenon -- Sam Adams took his political inclinations from the 17th-century struggles between England's Puritans and the English Crown. If Jefferson's inspirations were Enlightenment philosophers like Montesquieu and David Hume, Sam Adams absorbed his worldview from Puritan militant Oliver Cromwell (Adams also shared Cromwell's knee-jerk anti-Catholicism).

Like Cromwell a century before, Adams jealously guarded the rights of Englishmen against royal infringement. And, like Cromwell, Adams found a source for both fiery rhetoric and steely determination in a strict reading of the Bible. For both men, liberty and public virtue were inextricably linked. During a dark period of the Revolutionary War, Adams wrote to a friend that " general Dissolution of Principles & Manners will more surely overthrow the Liberties of America tha...

April 23: " 'A job,' the woman repeated again, smiling, as if I hadn't heard her. 'Would you like one?' "

Kenneth Calhoun (Black Moon) and Lysley Tenorio (Monstress) of the Discover Great New Writers program on B-movies, heritage, and finales.

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Zia Haider Rahman's mystery of a brilliant Bangladeshi mathematician's past barrels through the Ivy League, London high finance, and spy-haunted Afghanistan in a page-turning tale of exile, intrigue and the price of friendship. A Discover Great New Writers selection.

The People's Platform

Once touted as the foundation for tomorrow's digital democracy, the Internet is increasingly ruled by a few corporate giants, while millions of contributors till its fields for free. Astra Taylor looks at why the web has failed to deliver a communitarian cyberscape, and offers a compelling case for restoring its original vision.

A Private Venus

Dubbed "the Italian Simenon," Giorgio Scerbanenco (1911-1969) began his crime-writing career with books set in the USA, but quickly shifted scene closer to home, the city of Milan.  In this adventure, appearing in English for the first time, his underdog hero Dr. Duca Lamberti finds himself in the middle of a seedy, scantily clad criminal racket, where the presence of an outsider could result in death.