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Books

Fresh Air jazz critic Kevin Whitehead reviews three jazz books out this holiday season—a singer's biography, a pianist's autobiography, and a fat coffee table book. Whitehead says they're all worth a look, though he has a couple of quibbles — and also a confession.

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British mystery and crime novelist P.D. James, whose best-known works featured poet and Scotland Yard detective Adam Dalgliesh as a protagonist, has died at age 94, her publisher says.

Phyllis Dorothy James, a baroness and award-winning writer of such books as Shroud for a Nightingale, The Black Tower and The Murder Room, was born in Oxford began writing in her late 30s and published her first novel, Cover Her Face, in 1962.

Last year, when I heard that Anjelica Huston's memoir A Story Lately Told was about to come out, I was excited. I imagined that it would include a lot of inside stuff about the '70s and Hollywood and the actress' long relationship with Jack Nicholson. As it turned out, that book's subtitle was Coming of Age in Ireland, London and New York, and it ended with Huston arriving in California. But I didn't miss the glitz. The story she had to tell was original.

NBC news

David Rothkopf takes two presidents to task in his new nook "National Insecurity: American Leadership in the Age of Fear." Chiding both President Obama and his Predecessor George W. Bush for their failures and false starts in foreign policy, Rothkopf wants to see America to engage with its allies again to secure the world from harm.

Guest:

  • David Rothkopf, CEO and editor of the FP group, which publishes Foreign Policy Magazine. Rothkopf was also a deputy secretary of Commerce for President Bill Clinton. 

When book critic Maureen Corrigan first read F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby in high school, she was unimpressed.

"Not a lot happens in Gatsby," Corrigan tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "It's not a plot-driven novel and I also thought, 'Eh, it's another novel about rich people.' And I grew up in a blue-collar community."

She also couldn't relate, she says, because it doesn't feature any likeable female characters.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

Before the Hunger Games, before Divergent, before young adult dystopia became the next big thing, Lois Lowry published “The Giver.

It’s the story of a seemingly utopian society where there is no suffering, no pain, no hunger. But there is also no love or individual freedom, no color, no emotion. Spouses, children and jobs are assigned. Everything and everyone is the same.

Amine GHRABI / http://bit.ly/1oebok9 / cc

They are more cosmopolitan, less religious, and more educated than their parents and grandparents. The millennials of the Arab world are going to change the way we think of the Middle East and North Africa, argues Juan Cole in his new book, "The New Arabs."

Cole, who has been writing about the interaction between the Muslim World and the West for years, points to the fact that the internet-savvy citizens of Libya,  Egypt and Tunisia used their skills to topple their repressive governments.

Flickr user 401(K) 2012 / cc

Recent Supreme Court rulings have helped the influx of mega money and their donors into political campaigns.

Kenneth Vogel has been tracking it for Politico and describes the post-Citizen's United universe in his new book, "Big Money, 2.5 Billion Dollars, One Suspicious Vehicle, and a Pimp--on the Trail of the Ultra-Rich Hijacking American Politics."

Guest

Matt Gibson / cc

Amazon is the big kid on the block of both online book selling and bookselling in general, controlling a large portion of the U.S. market.

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