Afghan morass

In two books on Afghanistan, Anand Gopal and Carlotta Gall each point to the absurdity of America's longest war.

Wrestling with Paul

Frances Taylor Gench doesn't ignore difficult texts about women; she wrestles with them. That's because she is committed to the Bible as scripture.

Room to grow up

Are today's young adults more immature than their age mates in previous generations? Yes, says Julie Lythcott-Haims, but it's not their fault.

The Two-State Delusion, by Padraig O’Malley

Padraig O'Malley is not the first scholar to call the two-state approach a failed paradigm. Yet where others suggest an alternative, O'Malley remains in the deconstructing stage.

Saved by Islam?

Submission is billed as a cautionary tale about Islam's threat to Europe. In fact it's more of an introspective tract on the West's ambivalence about survival.

Chris Wiman's Christmas picks

A couple of years ago I ordered a book by Jen Hadfield on the strength of a vividly disgusting couplet I came across somewhere or other: “Under the broiler / turned sausages ejaculate.” (That’s turned as in forgotten and rotting—Hadfield’s idiom is Scottish, as are her eye and ear.) The book was strong, but Byssus (Pica­dor), her new collection, is even stronger.

Sara Miles's Christmas picks

Christmas has never been my favorite of the ostensibly Christian feast days; its manic gift-giving enterprise fills me with a mixture of crabbiness, confusion, and despair.

Reggie Williams's Christmas picks

Kelly Brown Douglas is an accomplished scholar with a prophetic theological voice that speaks to Christians in the pews and the theological academy.

Chris Hoke's Christmas picks

Two months ago my wife and I walked downtown to see Mr. Holmes, with Sir Ian McKellen playing an aging version of the science-conquers-superstition Sherlock Holmes. I found myself crying in the dark as McKellen’s trembling, frail Sherlock struggled in his final years to solve one final mystery: why a woman he almost loved took her own life.

Thomas Lynch's Christmas picks

I recommend Bonnie Jo Campbell’s Mothers, Tell Your Daughters (Norton), a selection of short stories about mostly hardscrabble, down-market women in southwestern lower Michigan. Campbell makes fiction look easy.