The Pursuit of Italy

Historian David Gilmour takes a revisionist view of the past two centuries when he argues in this new volume that the unification of Italy was a mistake, a yoking-together of many disparate strains never meant to huddle under one national umbrella. To bolster his thesis he introduces the reader to a wealth of famous figures, beautifully delineated historical moments, and slice-of-life, human-interest stories.

April 19: "What you see first, after the starting gun's crack, is a column of bobbing runners, thousands of them, surging downhill..."

Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch is the winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. James Parker calls this Dickensian coming-of-age novel "an enveloping…