WSJ Books

‘I tell you, this is the only business in this world where any man may take the fruits of another man’s labour—his sweat and his tears—and pay him not a damn penny for it—all the while getting rich himself!’

That statement on the travails of the creative writer comes from Charles Dickens—or rather, a fictional version of the beloved writer, who appears in Zadie Smith’s new novel “The Fraud.” This capacious tale of one family’s involvement in a legal case of impersonation and inheritance finds Dickens and his colleagues William Makepeace Thackeray and George Cruikshank rubbing elbows with Ms. Smith’s own creations, to exuberant effect.

As Sam Sacks writes in his review, “Ms. Smith has always been superb at conjuring voices . . . and the scenes come to life in whirlwinds of dialogue that hurl together working-class cant, Caribbean patois and Queen’s English.” Dickens couldn’t have done it better. Read the review

Fighting Together

Brethren: Theodore Roosevelt and Henry Cabot Lodge were natural political allies from similar backgrounds. Both were Harvard men from wealthy families who embraced the belief in American global leadership and saw the power of corporate robber barons as a threat to be checked. Lodge, who served in the U.S. Senate for three decades, was eight years older than Roosevelt and frequently acted as his mentor and supporter. For his part, Roosevelt wrote to Lodge: “You are certainly the most loyal friend that ever breathed.”

Robert W. Merry on “The Rough Rider and the Professor” by Laurence Jurdem. Read the review