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What We're Reading: October 2016

Longlisted for the National Book Award A former Wall Street quant sounds an alarm on the mathematical models that pervade modern life -- and threaten to rip apart our social fabric We live in the age of the algorithm. Increasingly, the decisions that affect our lives--where we go to school, whether we get a car loan, how much we pay for health insurance--are being made not by humans, but by mathematical models. In theory, this should lead to greater fairness: Everyone is judged according to the same rules, and bias is eliminated. But as Cathy O'Neil reveals in this urgent and necessary book, the opposite is true. The models being used today are opaque, unregulated, and uncontestable, even when they're wrong. 

Also available in: e-book | audiobook

The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Cleopatra , the #1 national bestseller, unpacks the mystery of the Salem Witch Trials. It began in 1692, over an exceptionally raw Massachusetts winter, when a minister's daughter began to scream and convulse. It ended less than a year later, but not before 19 men and women had been hanged and an elderly man crushed to death. The panic spread quickly, involving the most educated men and prominent politicians in the colony. Neighbors accused neighbors, parents and children each other. Aside from suffrage, the Salem Witch Trials represent the only moment when women played the central role in American history. In curious ways, the trials would shape the future republic. As psychologically thrilling as it is historically seminal, THE WITCHES is Stacy Schiff's account of this fantastical story-the first great American mystery unveiled fully for the first time by one of our most acclaimed historians.

Featuring a diverse group of writers, War No More gathers the best of America's vibrant tradition of antiwar and peace literature, essays, letters, speeches, memoirs, poems, stories and songs spanning almost three centuries. It offers an unprecedented view of a powerful and perennially relevant American tradition, encompassing five-star generals, theologians, nuclear physicists, folk singers, signers of the declaration, quietists, anarchists, veterans, and Nobel laureates.
 

With spot-on details and ingenious plot twists, Beverly Connor has been compared to the hottest crime writers on the scene. Now, she ratchets up the suspense with a series featuring a cunning and complex sleuth: forensic anthropologist Diane Fallon. Her new job as director of the RiverTrail Museum of Natural History in Georgia takes Diane out of the game-until a former love and a murdered family bring her back in.
 

Razor girl : a novel by Carl Hiaasen
Also available in: audiobook

"When Lane Coolman's car is bashed from behind on the road to the Florida Keys, what appears to be an innocent accident is anything but (this is Hiaasen!). Behind the wheel of the offending car is Merry Mansfield--the eponymous Razor Girl--so named for her unique, eye-popping addition to what might be an otherwise unexciting scam. But, of course--this is Hiaasen!--the scam is only the very beginning of a situation that's going to spiral crazily out of control while gathering in some of the wildest characters Hiaasen has ever set loose on the page. There's the owner of Sedimental Journey--the company that steals sand from one beach to restore erosion on another...Dominick "Big Noogie" Aeola, the NYC mafia capo with a taste for the pinkest of sands...Zeto,the small-time hustler who gets electrocuted trying to charge a Tesla...Nance Buck, native Wisconsinite who's nonetheless the star of the red neck reality TV show, "Bayou Brethren"...a psycho who goes by the name of Blister and who's more Nance Buck than Buck could ever be...the multimillionaire product liability lawyer who's getting dangerously--and deformingly--hooked on the very product he's litigating against...and Andrew Yancy--formerly Detective Yancy, busted to Key West roach patrol after he beat up his then-lover's husband with a Dustbuster--who's convinced that if he can just solve one more murder on his own, he'll get his detective badge back. That the Razor Girl may be the key to his success in this deeply ill-considered endeavor will be as surprising to him as anything else he encounters along the way--including the nine-pound Gambian pouched rats getting very used to the good life in the Keys... "--.

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