Karl Wolff

Born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Karl Wolff is currently the Staff Writer/Associate Editor for the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography.

With a master’s in Public History and experience in local news, teaching, and museums, Mr. Wolff combines a generalist's broad knowledge base with a penchant for discovering connections across various literary genres and academic disciplines.

In addition to his voracious reading habits, Mr. Wolff seeks to further the ongoing conversation between reader and reviewer by creating a new and enlightened assessment of a book without simply offering up a summary—for a review must be greater than the sum of its parts. Mr. Wolff has reviewed fiction and nonfiction for Blogcritics.org and the Joe Bob Report, the website of Nineties Drive-in movie icon and TV personality Joe Bob Briggs.

His book, On Being Human, is an exploration of the question, “What does it mean to be human?” The book investigates the question, looking at various pop cultural artifacts from science fiction dystopias to Beckett novels to roleplaying games.

For Mr. Wolff, the joy of reviewing means spreading the good news about books for readers looking for a new and different reading experience.

Book Reviews by Karl Wolff

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The mind bends, recoils, and shudders at the beasts within.”

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“The Prado Masterpieces is an incredible book, marrying visual splendor with academic insight.”

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“Roger Lewinter casts an exacting eye upon himself, creating in prose a self-portrait worthy of Rembrandt.”

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“Javelin catcher, confidant, consigliere, battlefield commander.” These are some common roles undertaken by the White House Chief of Staff.

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“[Lewinter’s] unique literary voice . . . is that of an obsessive, a philosopher, and a miniaturist.”

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“. . . . joyous and raunchy . . . Yoss creates a fascinating and beautiful universe built upon the ideals of cooperation and egalitarianism.”

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a potent cocktail of political anger and radical formal experimentation.”

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School is out and Xanther can finally spend more time with the little one, her white cat.

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The past and the future are her playground, and she relays an open invitation to all who seek a daring museum experience.”

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Last Look is a cold indictment of pretentious frauds yet an intimate exploration of fear, regret, and failure.”

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Scriptorium is a rare and beautiful collection of poetry.”

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William Merritt Chase (1849–1916) is a pivotal figure in the history of American art. He was a contemporary of James Whistler and John Singer Sargent.

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The Eyes of the City invites an unhurried view, seducing the eye to linger over the images, letting stories come to life in the mind.”

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“I’d intended to provoke; what I got instead was sixty reviews in a vacuum.” Jonathan Franzen said this after penning a little-known manifesto, before he published The Corrections, spurned

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Whipsawing between passages of erotic ecstasy and suicidal despair, IRL by Tommy “Teebs” Pico reveals itself as a monument of self-lacerating beauty.

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In the last months of the Ceauşescu regime, four people struggle to survive in the suffocating, corrupt, and ossified atmosphere of Romanian totalitarianism.

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For those interested in an introductory volume about the Jewish people and Israeli history, this book is highly recommended.”

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Sylvia Ji has created an artistic oeuvre melding elements of feminine lust and morbid death. Korero Press has assembled a retrospective collection with Day of the Dead and Other Works.

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Morbid Curiosities is highly recommended for its lurid yet tasteful exploration of an otherwise ignored subculture of collecting.”

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a fable about ideological extremism under an avant-garde skin.”

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“[a] stylish and intelligent discussion of the intersection of transportation, aesthetics, and meaning.”

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The German War is an important scholarly achievement in the field of modern German history, and it is written with an epic narrative sweep.”

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a brilliant exploration of the final days of the European theater, valuable in its military analysis and generous use of eyewitness accounts.”

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The common perception of the Supreme Court as a conservative body remains a truism, if not a banal cliche.

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Ezra Loomis Pound cemented his literary career as one of the chief architects of Modernism. He edited T. S.

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Patrick Modiano goes beyond the checklist accuracies of historical fiction, fashioning a lush fever dream filled with glamor, mystery, and despair.”

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On a routine visit to Belgium to buy 20 million pounds of wheat, a Moroccan government official finds his trousers have disappeared.

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"In the second volume of Danielewski's ambitious series, strangeness abounds, characters connect, and hidden identities are revealed."

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After thousands of years in a state of wandering statelessness, the modern state of Israel came into existence in 1948.

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a useful tool for an exploration of modern European artistic sensibilities.”

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Is there poetry after Auschwitz? Is there horror after the massacre in Orlando?

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One day Gabby Schulz came down with a bad fever. The end result was Sick, published by Secret Acres.

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Arsénie Negovan doesn't get out much. For the past 20-odd years, he's maintained a series of properties in Belgrade, Yugoslavia.

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“Match your pocket square with your shirt, shoes, socks, belt, hat, gloves or trousers.

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Michèle Audin's debut novel One Hundred Twenty-One Days is a story about mathematics and love.

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a masterpiece of concision and pain. . . . a literary achievement . . .”

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The War on Alcohol retells the story of Prohibition with a cocktail of case studies, legal analysis, and a broad scope.”

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celebrates the still transgressive world of gay leathermen and Tom of Finland's place in Los Angeles’ architectural history.”

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For the curious, The Secret Teachers of the Western World exists as a valuable and highly readable resource.”

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a highly recommended read.”

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“especially relevant in this present age of religious violence and moral bankruptcy.”

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In the United States, the current election season has brought forth a motley grab bag of presidential candidates.

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Patrick McDonnell, creator of Mutts, describes Underworld as “outrageous, demented, perverted, and politically incorrect, but somehow it's also charming, endearing, compelling, an

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In Tiny: Streetwise Revisited, the photographer Mary Ellen Mark chronicles the life of “Tiny” (Erin Charles), a street kid from Seattle.

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After ten years of war, soldiers have grown weary. The leadership now endures uncouth criticism of its policy, accusations of self-interest and self-aggrandizement become commonplace.

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The author crafts passages of agonizing psychological self-torment with a master's ear for the perfect phrase.”

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The small town of Arvida, Quebec, becomes the focal point for Samuel Archibald's haunting short story collection.

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a delightful sampler of the grotesque and absurd.”

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a fun graphic novel.”

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On September 18, 1931, the Regensburger Echo ran a front-page article, “Suicide in Hitler's Apartment.” The body of Geli Raubal, Hitler's niece, was found with a single gunshot wound to th

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Beginning with the Siegestor (Victory Gate) in Munich and ending with the Reichstag in Berlin, Germany: Memories of a Nation by Neil MacGregor seeks to understand four centuries o

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Venice, renown the world over for its beauty and riches, becomes the setting for Gabrielle Wittkop's Murder Most Serene.

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A rewarding collection whether read straight through or sampling here and there.”

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“Stick to the fundamentals, that's how IBM and Hilton were built . . .

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In the final minutes of Martin Scorsese's Goodfellas, Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) opens the door to his nondescript suburban home.

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a fascinating peek into the genesis of Austria's controversial literary figure.”

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Zagreb Noir, edited by Ivan Sršen, is yet another international addition to the long-running Akashic Noir series.

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The history of the United States is not only a parade of rugged individuals and hardy pioneers, but one of family dynasties, entrenched power relations, and colossal wealth.

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With every passing year, the media sends forth a new wave of apocalyptic predictions.

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Set in the year 2056, My Wet Hot Drone Summer by Lex Brown follows Mia Garner and her stepbrother on a road trip across the United States.

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an illuminating linguistic, cartographic, and historical exploration of Parisian lusts.”

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In the 1920s, Franz Tügel, a Lutheran pastor from a wealthy Hamburg merchant family, gave a sermon to a church full of SA men.

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"Mirbeau's novel offers trenchant satire that will endure."

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Understanding the full scope of The Familiar is akin to counting the raindrops.

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For Jennifer Birkett, Emeritus Professor of French Studies at the University of Birmingham, Samuel Beckett thought “life was a matter of doing time, while writing was a way of undoing it.” 

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The news coming from Syria is not good. The initial exhilaration and hope ignited by the Arab Spring has faded into the background.

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When the state of Indiana recently passed the Orwellian-sounding Religious Freedom Restoration Act in 2015, little did the lawmakers and Governor Mike Pence expect a swift blowback.

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Unger's biography of John Marshall reveals how he saved the nation, but also democracy's fragility.”

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“Mr. Sandford expertly uses historical and archival material to make Kennedy's and Macmillan's Special Relationship come to life.”

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“What Dubler has produced in his weeklong observance of activities is a rare combination of prison anthropology, deep journalism, history of religiosity in the United States, and a personal

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“The achievements of the Greatest Generation and the policies of FDR are without equal in American history, but the narrow focus and the crass partisan cheerleading ruin an otherwise fascin

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“Gordis has written a concise and exciting political biography of Menachem Begin. . . .

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Maximalist is a highly readable account of American engagement during the Cold War and the War on Terror.

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“. . . with modern permutations of American fun, American Fun: Four Centuries of Joyous Revolt offers a history that is about fun and is fun to read.

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“Sharon lived a life saturated with controversy. Mr. Landau's biography paints a comprehensive picture of Ariel Sharon, a man easy to hate, but harder to understand.”

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The Burglary shows how a small group of committed individuals performed the bravest act of all, exposing Hoover . . .”

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Democracy can be measured by its successes, but these successes can trap democracies.

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“. . . for those interested in the Cold War, intelligence history, and British decolonization, the book proves indispensible.”

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“. . . an entertaining account that strings together fascinating factoids into a tapestry of urban history and cultural anthropology.”

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“. . . . funny, bitter, hopeful, and raging.”

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“. . . a comical descent into the carefully choreographed madness of contemporary American culture.”

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“. . . an excellent anthology of witty prose, astute analysis, and frenzied rage.”

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“. . . educates and entertains in equal measure, . . .”

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“. . . a nerve-wracking international thriller and a group portrait of individuals dealing with circumstances beyond their control.”

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“. . . an informative and challenging introduction to Zbigniew Brzezinski.”

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“Neither heroine nor villainness, Rose Kennedy shines through as an extraordinary human being.”

Rose Kennedy occupies a legendary place within modern American history.

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“Mr. Vásquez weaves together memory and imagery into a seamless whole.”

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“Mr. Jones has done a great public service making Randolph's story known.”

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“. . . a fascinating exploration of some lesser-known corners of the Asian continent and a portrait of a marriage under extreme circumstances . . .”

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“. . . part Isaac Asimov, part P. T. Barnum, and part Charles Fort, a legendary American icon . . .”

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“. . . a meaty slab of literary realism in the tradition of Charles Dickens, Honoré de Balzac, and Émile Zola . . .”

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“. . . an intellectual tapestry that is both a page-turner and an education.”

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“In its crisp brevity, End of the Good Life should be read by the under- and unemployed millions of Millennials.”

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“Gold Rush in the Jungle is a book of opposites, discovery vs. extinction, economic development vs. environmental devastation . . .”

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Peru not only overturns the notion of nostalgia for childhood but also overturns the very foundations of the novel itself.”

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“. . . a rollicking farce . . . a tightly plotted comedic tale with a genuine emotional center and a sharp satirical wit.”