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A 400-year story of progress

Americana: A 400-Year History of American Capitalism. By Bhu Srinivasan. Penguin Press; 576 pages; $30. BHU SRINIVASAN’S new book, “Americana”, is a delightful tour through the businesses and industries that turned America into the biggest economy in the world. Not only is the book written in a light and informative …

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Pacific Standard Time LA/LA: 1,100 artists from 45 countries

Higgledy-piggledy home IT IS night and you are barefoot, stumbling across cold desert sand. A ragbag of humans almost crashes into you. They are so close you can see that the child who has lost a shoe is curling her little toes inward to avoid the thorns. A man drags …

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The power of the comma

A LAW in Maine excluded from overtime pay “the canning, processing, preserving, freezing, drying, marketing, storing, packing for shipment or distribution of” certain products. But is the end of that list—“packing for shipment or distribution”—one activity? Or are they distinct things, (1) packing for shipment and (2) distribution? The company …

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Tadeusz Kosciuszko, Poland’s all-American hero

THIS summer, when the battle over honouring Confederate leaders was at its most fierce, the Polish embassy in Washington had an arresting solution. Echoing a local conservative radio host, it suggested renaming a Virginian highway—celebrating Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy—after Tadeusz Kosciuszko, a Polish general and statesman. He remains …

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Why fans are riveted by Giancarlo Stanton’s race for seventh place

THE story of the 2017 Major League Baseball (MLB) season has been the home run. Just three years after a lull in run-scoring sometimes called the “little deadball era”, when offence hit its lowest mark since 1981, equilibrium has been restored almost exclusively on the back of the long ball. …

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The temptations and pitfalls of adapting your own novel for the screen

HOLLYWOOD has been adapting great books into films for over a century, and for just as long, authors have disapproved. Stephen King loathed Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining” (preferring the inferior 1997 television mini-series that hewed more closely to his book), while Truman Capote dismissed the film “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” based …

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“Mother!” is a startling scrambling of the horror-film genre

“MOTHER!” begins in a creaky old lodge in the middle of a forest: a setting so tediously generic that it’s easy to imagine finding it as the stock photograph for “scary house”. Viewers will recognise plenty of staples of the horror genre in the film’s opening minutes. The house is …

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How Russia went wrong, as told from the inside

Russia’s Dead End: An Insider’s Testimony from Gorbachev to Putin. By Andrei Kovalev. Translated by Steven Levine. Potomac Books; 392 pages; $34.95 and £26.50. HIDDEN within the Soviet system were able, conscientious officials who were appalled by the crimes and lies they were asked to defend. One of them was …

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The many, often competing, jobs of the Bank of England

Till Time’s Last Sand: A History of the Bank of England 1694-2013. By David Kynaston. Bloomsbury Publishing; 896 pages; £35. To be published in America in November; $75. MONTAGU NORMAN, the longest-serving (1920-44) and most eccentric governor of the Bank of England, had little time for economists. He quipped to …

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“Forest Dark”, a tale of two lost selves

Forest Dark. By Nicole Krauss. Harper; 304 pages; $27.99. Bloomsbury; £16.99. THE latest novel from Nicole Krauss, “Forest Dark”, opens with the mysterious disappearance of Jules Epstein. This vital man of great appetites and fierce arguments had spent nearly seven decades devoted to the pleasures of this world, swaddled in …