3 New Books to Feed Your Brain

International spies, microbiological bazaars, feminist awakenings in India: These well-researched reads will get you thinking.

<a href="http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-227861584/stock-photo-book-pages-yellow-leaves-of-autumn-concept.html?src=dMTU_SevOLdY2hW6u_Bl4g-1-6">Kichigin</a>/Shutterstock

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.


You’ve just filled your belly to the brim. Turn now to some new tomes that will help fill your mind:

The Devil’s Chessboard

By David Talbot

“What follows,” David Talbot boasts in the prologue to his new book The Devil’s Chessboard, “is an espionage adventure that is far more action-packed and momentous than any spy tale with which readers are familiar.” Talbot, the founder of Salon.com and author of the Kennedy clan study Brothers, doesn’t deal in subtlety in his biography of Allen Dulles, the CIA director under presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy, the younger brother of Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, and the architect of a secretive national security apparatus that functioned as essentially an autonomous branch of government. Talbot offers a portrait of a black-and-white Cold War-era world full of spy games and nuclear brinkmanship, in which everyone is either a good guy or a bad guy. Dulles—who deceived American elected leaders and overthrew foreign ones, who backed ex-Nazis and thwarted left-leaning democrats—falls firmly in the latter camp.—Aaron Wiener

The Hidden Half of Nature

By David R. Montgomery and Anne Biklé

In this transformative read, David Montgomery, a professor of earth and space sciences, and his wife, biologist and environmental planner Anne Biklé, unravel the universe of microbes that make dirt fertile and allow us to digest food. Both the lining of our colons and the ground beneath our feet, the authors write, are “bio­logical bazaars where plants and people trade nutritional wares and form alliances.” Combining lucid explication of emerging science with personal anecdotes, Montgomery and Biklé, who confronted a cancer diagnosis while writing the book, reveal that our immune defenses depend on protecting and nourishing these microscopic brigades.—Tom Philpott

My Life on the Road

By Gloria Steinem

Steinem spent her childhood crammed against her sister in the backseat of a car as her father tried to persuade roadside antique dealers to buy his wares. In My Life on the Road, her first book in more than 20 years, Steinem elegantly reflects on this nomadic upbringing and how it inspired her own travels. Though she never learned to drive, her tours as a young journalist introduced her to women who helped shape her ideology: disgruntled American stewardesses, passengers in a female-only Indian train car, and an Irish taxi driver who told Steinem in the 1970s, “Honey, if men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament!”—Becca Andrews.


If you buy a book using the Bookshop link on this page, a small share of the proceeds supports our journalism.

TIME IS RUNNING OUT!

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and it's truly crunch time: About 15 percent of our yearly online giving usually comes in during the final week of the year, and in "No Cute Headlines or Manipulative BS," we explain why we simply can't afford to come up short right now.

The bottom line: Corporations and powerful people with deep pockets will never sustain the type of journalism Mother Jones exists to do. And advertising or profit-driven ownership groups will never make time-intensive, in-depth reporting viable.

That's why donations big and small make up 74 percent of our budget this year. There is no backup to keep us going, no alternate revenue source, no secret benefactor. If readers don’t donate, we won’t be here. It's that simple.

And if you can help us out with a donation right now, all online gifts will be matched thanks to an incredibly generous matching gift pledge.

payment methods

TIME IS RUNNING OUT!

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and it's truly crunch time: About 15 percent of our yearly online giving usually comes in during the final week of the year, and in "No Cute Headlines or Manipulative BS," we explain why we simply can't afford to come up short right now.

The bottom line: Corporations and powerful people with deep pockets will never sustain the type of journalism Mother Jones exists to do. And advertising or profit-driven ownership groups will never make time-intensive, in-depth reporting viable.

That's why donations big and small make up 74 percent of our budget this year. There is no backup to keep us going, no alternate revenue source, no secret benefactor. If readers don’t donate, we won’t be here. It's that simple.

And if you can help us out with a donation right now, all online gifts will be matched thanks to an incredibly generous matching gift pledge.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate