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Harvey Freedenberg

Biography

Harvey Freedenberg


mwn52@aol.com

Harvey Freedenberg practices intellectual property law and litigation with a large Harrisburg, Pennsylvania firm. He's been working as a freelance reviewer since 2005 and is a member of the National Book Critics Circle. In addition to the more than 100 reviews he's written for Bookreporter.com, he reviews for BookPage, Shelf Awareness and the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. He also writes a monthly column featuring reviews and articles on other book-related subjects for Harrisburg Magazine. In 2000, Harvey took a six-month sabbatical from his law practice and studied creative writing at his alma mater, Dickinson College. Three of his short stories have won prizes, and he has written an as-yet-unpublished novel. Harvey enjoys literary fiction and a wide range of nonfiction. His favorite authors are too numerous to mention, but include Richard Ford, Tim O’Brien, John Updike, Charles Baxter, John Cheever, Tracy Kidder and John McPhee. To read all of Harvey's reviews along with his comments on the book world and assorted topics, follow him on Twitter (@HarvF) or friend him on Facebook.

Harvey Freedenberg

Reviews by Harvey Freedenberg

by Jim Shepard - Fiction, Short Stories

These 10 stories ring with voices belonging to --- among others --- English Arctic explorers in one of history's most nightmarish expeditions, a young contemporary American negotiating the shockingly underreported hazards of our crude-oil trains, 18th-century French balloonists inventing manned flight, and two mid-19th-century housewives trying to forge a connection despite their isolation on the frontier of settlement. In each case, the personal is the political as these characters face everything from the emotional pitfalls of everyday life to historic catastrophes on a global scale.

by John Avlon - History, Nonfiction

George Washington’s Farewell Address was a prophetic letter from a “parting friend” to his fellow citizens about the forces he feared could destroy our democracy: hyper-partisanship, excessive debt and foreign wars. Once celebrated as civic scripture, more widely reprinted than the Declaration of Independence, the Farewell Address is now almost forgotten. However, its message remains starkly relevant. In WASHINGTON’S FAREWELL, John Avlon offers a stunning portrait of our first president and his battle to save America from self-destruction.

by Henning Mankell - Memoir, Nonfiction

In January 2014, Henning Mankell received a diagnosis of lung cancer. QUICKSAND is a response to this shattering news --- but it is not a memoir of destruction. Instead, it is a testament to a life fully lived, a tribute to the extraordinary but fleeting human journey that delivers both boundless opportunity and crucial responsibility. In a series of intimate vignettes, Mankell ranges over rich and varied reflections. Along the way, he ponders the meaning of a good life, and the critically important ways we can shape the future of humanity if we are fortunate enough to have the choice.

by Will Schwalbe - Literature, Memoir, Nonfiction

Why is it that we read? Is it to pass time? To learn something new? To escape from reality? For Will Schwalbe, reading is a way to entertain himself but also to make sense of the world, to become a better person, and to find the answers to the big (and small) questions about how to live his life. In BOOKS FOR LIVING, Schwalbe invites us along on his quest for books that speak to the specific challenges of living in our modern world, with all its noise and distractions. In each chapter, he discusses a particular book --- what brought him to it (or vice versa), the people in his life he associates with it, and how it became a part of his understanding of himself in the world.

by Michael Lewis - Economics, Nonfiction, Psychology

Forty years ago, Israeli psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky wrote a series of breathtakingly original studies undoing our assumptions about the decision-making process. Their papers showed the ways in which the human mind erred, systematically, when forced to make judgments in uncertain situations. Their work created the field of behavioral economics, revolutionized Big Data studies, advanced evidence-based medicine, led to a new approach to government regulation, and made much of Michael Lewis’ own work possible. THE UNDOING PROJECT is about a compelling collaboration between two men who have the dimensions of great literary figures.

written by Amos Oz, translated by Nicholas de Lange - Fiction, Historical Fiction

Jerusalem, 1959. Shmuel Ash, a biblical scholar, is adrift in his young life when he finds work as a caregiver for a brilliant but cantankerous old man named Gershom Wald. There is, however, a third, mysterious presence in his new home. Atalia Abarbanel, the daughter of a deceased Zionist leader, a beautiful woman in her 40s, entrances young Shmuel even as she keeps him at a distance. Piece by piece, the old Jerusalem stone house, haunted by tragic history and now home to the three misfits and their intricate relationship, reveals its secrets.

by Francine Prose - Fiction

“Mister Monkey” --- a screwball children’s musical about a playfully larcenous pet chimpanzee --- is the kind of family favorite that survives far past its prime. Margot, who plays the chimp’s lawyer, knows the production is dreadful and bemoans the failure of her acting career. She’s settled into the drudgery of playing a humiliating part --- until the day she receives a mysterious letter from an anonymous admirer…and later, in the middle of a performance, has a shocking encounter with Adam, the 12-year-old who plays the title role.

by Gary Younge - Current Affairs, Nonfiction

On an average day in America, seven young people aged 19 or under will be shot dead. In ANOTHER DAY IN THE DEATH OF AMERICA, award-winning Guardian journalist Gary Younge tells the stories of the lives lost during the course of a single day in the United States. It could have been any day, but Younge has chosen November 23, 2013. From Jaiden Dixon (9), shot point-blank by his mother’s ex-boyfriend on his doorstep in Ohio, to Pedro Dado Cortez (16), shot by an enemy gang on a street corner in California, the narrative crisscrosses the country over a period of 24 hours to reveal the powerful human stories behind the statistics.

by Joyce Carol Oates - Essays, Literary Criticism, Nonfiction

"Why do we write?" With this question, Joyce Carol Oates begins an imaginative exploration of the writing life, and all its attendant anxieties, joys and futilities, in this collection of seminal essays and criticism. Leading her quest is a desire to understand the source of the writer’s inspiration. Do subjects haunt those that might bring them back to life until the writer submits? Or does something "happen" to us, a sudden ignition of a burning flame? Can the appearance of a muse-like Other bring about a writer’s best work? In SOUL AT THE WHITE HEAT, Oates deploys her keenest critical faculties, conjuring contemporary and past voices whose work she dissects for clues to these elusive questions.

by Robert Olen Butler - Fiction

Robert Quinlan is a 70-year-old historian, teaching at Florida State University, where his wife Darla is also tenured. Their marriage, forged in the fervor of anti-Vietnam-war protests, now bears the fractures of time, both personal and historical. For Robert and Darla, the cracks remain under the surface, whereas the divisions in Robert’s own family are more apparent. He has almost no relationship with his brother, Jimmy. Their father, a veteran of WWII, is coming to the end of his life. And an unstable homeless man whom Robert at first takes to be a fellow Vietnam veteran turns out to have a deep impact not just on Robert, but on his entire family.