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Joan Baum

Book Reviewer

Joan Baum is a recovering academic from the City University of New York, who spent 25 years teaching literature and writing. Joan has a long career as a critic and reviewer, writing for, among others, WNYC, Newsday, The Christian Science Monitor, MIT's Technology Review, Hadassah Magazine and writing on subjects in her dissertation field, the major English Romantic poets. She covers all areas of cultural history but particularly enjoys books at the nexus of the humanities and the sciences.

With an eye on reviewing fiction and nonfiction that has regional resonance for Connecticut or Long Island – books written by local authors or books set in the area – Joan considers the timeliness and significance of recently published work: what these books have to say to a broad group of readers today and how they say it in a distinctive or unique manner, taking into account style and structure as well as subject matter.

  • A new true crime book takes a closer look at a scandalous murder of the 1920s. The investigation and trial sparked a battle between two New York City tabloids to offer readers the most salacious details. Book critic Joan Baum has this review.
  • The #Me Too movement is at the center of a new legal thriller set in New York City. Book critic Joan Baum has this review.
  • One hundred years ago this December, "The Waste Land" was first published. T.S. Eliot’s famous poem has been described as highly influential, irregular, and innovative. Its theme… the spiritual and cultural decay of…well just about everything.
  • One Hundred Saturdays, a collection of edited interviews the author Michael Frank did with Stella Levi, is in part a history lesson that goes back thousands of years, as well as a dark narrative of the mid-20th century.
  • So you think you know Cleopatra? A new biography of the ancient Egyptian leader challenges many of the myths that have defined her over the centuries. Book critic Joan Baum has this review.
  • Writer Howard Owen puts his years as a reporter and editor to good use in his next mystery novel, Dogtown. It won’t be available until the first week of December, but book critic Joan Baum got a peek at his latest work and has this review.
  • In his latest mystery novel, former Israeli Ambassador and Yale professor, Michael Oren, explores a forgotten piece of World War II history that occurred in New England.
  • Mary Rodgers was a composer, an author, and the daughter of the celebrated Richard Rodgers. She passed away in 2014. But a new memoir reanimates her voice and offers a peek behind the Broadway curtain and its cast of famous characters.
  • A bar in the Lower East Side is the setting of one short story in a collection of 16 pieces that explores writing, art, and the human condition. Book critic Joan Baum has this review.
  • He was born Melvin Kaminski in Brooklyn, New York. He’s been a 1,000 year-old man, the King of France and Dr. FRAHN-ken-steen. But he’s best known as Mel Brooks and he has a new memoir out.