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Imani Perry’s new book, “South to America,” joins a tradition of books traveling the South to find the key to the United States: its foundations, its changes, and its tensions. Perry, an Alabama native, approaches the task from several angles and discusses some of it in this week’s podcast.
“It contains personal stories,” Perry says. “It is a book about encounters. It is a book about the encounter with history but also with man. And as part of that, self-discovery, trying to understand why a Southern identity is so important to me, and why it’s so important to the shaping of this country.”
Oliver Roeder visits the podcast to discuss his new book “Seven Games,” a history of checkers, backgammon, chess, Go, poker, Scrabble, and bridge that also asks why we play.
“The simplest answer is that they’re fun,” says Roeder. “We like to play them as a pastime. Another answer is: it’s an exercise. Games are very simplified, distilled models of the real world we live in. With a game like poker, for example, we can practice dealing with uncertainty and hidden information “We don’t know our opponents’ cards. And of course, we always see situations like that in real life.”
Also on this week’s episode, Alexandra Alter has some news from the publishing industry, and Dwight Garner and Alexandra Jacobs talk about books they’ve recently reviewed. Pamela Paul is the host.
Here are the books discussed by The Times critics this week:
We’d love to hear what you think about this episode, and about the Book Review podcast in general. You can send them to books..